By Alex HudsonWhen Craig Finn unveiled his debut solo single last month, we knew that his first-ever solo LP would follow close behind. Sure enough, the Hold Steady frontman has announced plans to release Clear Heart Full Eyes on January 24 via Vagrant Records.
In a statement that's well worth reading, Finn explained that the album began as rough acoustic recordings that "had mostly been written in the first half of 2011, when I was experimenting with trying to write a new song every day." These tunes were "outside of the norm for the Hold Steady, a little quieter and perhaps more narrative."
He then travelled to Austin, where he recorded with studio whiz Mike McCarthy (Spoon, ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead.) The producer recruited backing musicians that included members of White Denim, the Heartless Bastards, Phosphorescent, and Centro-matic, and these players helped Finn to record 14 songs in just five days. Only 11 of the songs made the final cut.
"I would show them the song and they would learn it, and quickly we were rolling tape," recalled Finn. "I sang the vocals live in the studio, something I hadn't really done before. I don't believe any song took more than three takes."
As for the new material's subject matter, Finn wrote, "A lot of the songs deal with displacement, and people that are struggling while out of their element or comfort zone. A lot of the songs are about being alone."
The title is a reference to the TV series Friday Night Lights, a football drama that happens to be set in Texas. Finn added, "'Clear Heart' signifies honesty and transparency, and 'Full Eyes' suggests experience. Thus, it's about being optimistic and open without succumbing to the weariness or doubt that comes with age and experience."
This is just the beginning of the exciting announcements from Finn. He will confirm 2012 dates soon, and he is currently writing a new as-yet-untitled album with the Hold Steady.
Clear Heart Full Eyes:
1. "Apollo Bay" 2. "When No One's Watching" 3. "No Future" 4. "New Friend Jesus" 5. "Jackson" 6. "Terrified Eyes" 7. "Western Pier" 8. "Honolulu Blues" 9. "Rented Room" 10. "Balcony" 11. "Not Much Left of Us"