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Disc of the Week
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Disc of the Week
Not many guitarists can say they are part of Seattle rockers Pearl Jam, frontman for a successful "side band" Brad and, most recently, proud authors of their first solo album.
Arguably the most commercially successful solo member of Pearl Jam, Stone Gossard can finally see his name alone on a CD cover.
On Gossard's solo album, Bayleaf, remnants from both Brad and Pearl Jam can be heard in the album's lyrics, but while Bayleaf carries sounds from both of his other projects, it's refreshing to hear his own unique sound and style shine through.
The multi-talented musician plays bass, guitars, drums and piano, as well as contributing the vocals and songwriting. His talents are especially evident on songs like "Pigeon," the album's most radio-friendly track.
Bayleaf's range and variation set Gossard apart from members of other well-established bands who have taken on solo projects. He doesn't reproduce the sounds of his previous bands; he takes his influences and builds upon them instead.
From slow, melodic tunes like "Anchors" or the title track "Bayleaf" to the catchy beats of "Cadillac," this album plays like a ferris wheel ride through Gossard's head.
Without trying to delve too deeply into a particular frame of mind, the way many other popular musicians tend to, Gossard toys with his song themes in order to portray his message.
For example, on the track "Pigeon," Gossard sings about losing all material possessions in exchange for habits he's not willing to give up to please others.
Without imposing his opinions on listeners the way notoriously angry or depressed musicians seem to, Gossard tells stories that are open to interpretation.
The title track, "Bayleaf," sounds like an autobiographical portrait of his career. It's easily the most reflective song on the album, as Gossard sings about a guy with the capacity to make great music, but who fails to believe in himself.
Gossard's quiet confidence has also led to the lack of puclicity for the release of Bayleaf. Unlike the recent, commercially exploited release of ex-Jane's Addiction member David Navarro's solo album, Gossard relies on his solid fan base to promote this album.
There are no poster spreads of Gossard or lyrics in the disc jacket because there is no disc jacket. Gossard's humble presentation follows suit with his humble, yet notably successful career.
Bayleaf will finally put Stone Gossard on the map as an individual artist and not just a member of a successful band. As his first solo project, it's a sturdy stepping stone to what will hopefully bring bigger and better things.