Craig Finn “Honolulu Blues”
As a dyed in the wool Lftr Pllr and Hold Steady fan (well, at least the first three Hold Steady LP’s), it pains me to acknowledge how awful the first song from the new solo Craig Finn LP really is. An easy critique would be that the songs on Clear Heart Full Eyes will simply feel hollow without the backing of Tad and company that usually flesh out Finn’s raspy street poetry, but that doesn’t paint even close to the complete picture. It would be understandable if this was the case, as Finn’s solo material shouldn’t be expected to be a reprise of Hold Steady material, but “Honolulu Blues” is just simply bad. The (mediocre) bar band blues shuffle is the least of the songs worries, with Finn’s uninspired and off tune vocals really dragging the track down. For a guy who wrote (in my opinion) some of the sharpest lyrics of the 00’s, “Honolulu Blues” sounds like someone doing a B-rate, pale imitation of the story based songs that Finn has been known to write. The clumsy rhymes also are front and center because of the meager instrumentation that feels more like a stripped down demo version than the music that should accompany the lead single from this album. One can only hope that the rest of the album, both musically and lyrically, ups the ante, but the first song released from an album is often a strong indicator, and “Honolulu Blues” is a daunting indicator to say the least.