Dave Pirner Faces and Names

The first true solo album from the errant leader of MIA Minneapolis post-hardcore heroes Soul Asylum finds Pirner satisfying his R&B fetish with a collection of songs that are more funky soul than the down and dirty garage punk of his past. (Arguably the last few SA records have been Pirner satisfying his own musical indulgences while his band-mates quietly sat by and watched.) With electric piano cameos from Billy Preston on "Never Recover" and the smooth "get it on" groove of the Marvin Gaye-inspired "Feel the Need," it's probably safe to assume that the glorious raw rock and roll of Made To Be Broken is no longer something that interests Pirner. He's always had a genuine affinity for this kind of music - remember when Soul Asylum covered "Sexual Healing" and we foolishly thought it was a kitschy novelty? - and now he's finally able to explore it more fully; at least he's doing it outside of the Soul Asylum realm. On the upside, as far as nouveau, blue-eyed soul goes, Pirner's songs are actually fairly decent. They don't quite approach the bourbon-soaked grind of Afghan Whigs latest efforts, but they're certainly head and shoulders above anything Michael Bolton has ever tried to pass off as soul. (Sony)