We’re just a few weeks from the opening of the movie Into The Wild that Vedder soundtracked, based on the Jon Krakauer book of the same name. Reports from the Telluride Film Festival had folks leaving the theater screening with tears running down their faces, so people, get ready. I still haven’t read the book so I don’t know the ending (but . . . I’m guessing he dies).
GO LISTEN: The entire Into The Wild solo Vedder album is now streaming at WROV The Rock of Virginia (with voiceovers at the start and end of each song, but who’s complaining?).
I’d heard about half the tracks on this album from little leaks, but this is the first time I’ve experienced it start-to-finish. My impression is that it’s a superbly nuanced, ramblingly organic album. But to allay concerns of going soft or being coddled — even though it is acoustic, it’s not at all boring or sedate or old-mannish. There are several tracks that borderline wanna bust out the rock and yowl, with fierce strumming and solid drum action. There are even a few scarcely suppressed growl-screams that Vedder does best, to the delight of this rocker girl.
We’ve gotten lots of warm acoustic Pearl Jam songs over the years (think Thumbing My Way, You’re True, Soon Forget, Off He Goes) but they’re always sandwiched on albums between other rockers. This cohesive effort feels like a long Saturday afternoon in late summer with the right proportions of relaxed rambling and more intense energies.
As far as first impressions go, one of my favorite songs so far is the closing track, “Guaranteed,” which I’ve listened to about a dozen times. It captures an ineffable, unspeakable sweetness and emotion for me, a song to a soul adrift in a figurative sea. I also am drawn to the humble ukulele meandering of “Rise.” The soundtrack opens with the short and spirited “Setting Forth,” which is acoustic but impassioned. Despite having the same name as both the Candlebox screamer and the new Social D song, “Far Behind” is neither of the two. Instead it is one of those almost-rockers I was mentioning above, and I love that. “Society” is a slightly heavy-handed collaboration with North SF-Bay singer songwriter Jerry Hannan about our modern wants and needs, and both “Tuolumne” and “The Wolf” are instrumentals, with the latter containing some chill-inducing ethereal yips and howls from Vedder.
If the goal of a soundtrack is to effectively score the emotional terrain of a film, and tease out a feeling into the foreground, Vedder seems to succeed with this effort. I look forward to seeing the movie and adding the visual storyline to my impressions of the heart of this film that Ed has scored.
PearlJam.com is currently doing a special presale of the solo album bundled with a limited-edition commemorative tshirt. The album will officially be released next Tuesday the 18th.
[In related PJ bundle news, they’re also taking preorders of the new Immagine nel Cornice DVD with a tshirt as well. Like a good little Ten Club member, I’ve already placed my order, and am waiting with bated breath]