July 27, 2011


If you go into Eddie Vedder's latest LP, Ukulele Songs, presuming new stuff from Pearl Jam, you're going to be disappointed. However, if you go into it expecting elements of Into The Wild's escapism, a Pearl Jam cover, plenty of love songs, famous guest vocalists, and everything else in between, then you'll love it and appreciate everything about it.

With Pearl Jam, Vedder helped invent the sound of grunge rock, being considered one of the big four along with Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and Soundgarden. So, TBH, I never expected this. That a male performer like him can create such a tender, powerful, and beautiful set of songs, on an ukulele no less, is just astonishing.

With regard to Pearl Jam, I'll tell you that Jeremy  became the anthem of my teens and still gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. Click on the button below to read some interesting facts about this theme tune.

Pearl Jam celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Ukulele Songs isn't officially part of this commemorative process. Yet because it features material written over more than a decade of the band's life, including the driving Can't Keep, which also appears on a 2002 album called Riot Act, Vedder's album presents itself as part of the band's history.

Vedder, who played a variety of ukes on the album, covers the Mamas & The Papas' Dream a Little Dream and the ukulele classic Tonight You Belong To Me. For me, these songs don't sound too different than the original but the added texture of the ukulele brings them to a new level.

Dream A Little Dream by MM&PP (1968)
Cover by EV

Tonight You Belong To Me by Patience And Prudence (1956)
Cover by EV (featuring Cat Power)

But the real treasures here are Eddie's original songs. Some of the material collected on the record was written back in the mid-'90s after he first picked up the tiny guitar in a Hawaiian convenience store as a traveling companion in times of loneliness and songwriting tool. These are lyrics about love and loss, and for anyone who has ever gone through either, they are simply heartbreaking. Anyone who wants to read the lyrics here as autobiographical can do so. The songs of grief seem to describe the breakup of his first marriage, while the blissful ones pay homage to his second. More interesting than gossip is the sound of Vedder being so direct when American rock transforms here into a sweet lullaby. This album certainly isn't for everyone, but for those who have a longing for intimate, breathtaking music, it doesn't get much better than this.

Scroll down and click below to listen to some examples.


Marina said...

Esta entrada se merece un 10.
Interesantísima, adoro a Eddie Vedder, creo que su voz es... mágica. Adoro el disco de Ukelele Songs también.

kurrukata said...

Eskerrik asko! :)