The chiming, acoustic sound of "Hard Sun," the lead-off single from this collection of solo Eddie Vedder material, might lead fans to wonder where the roaring guitars and grunge-drenched energy of Pearl Jam has gone. Yet the large-scale, anthemic quality of the song, its forceful, three-chord progression, and Vedder's familiar gruff and soaring vocals reveal that the singer hasn't strayed far from home turf.
INTO THE WILD, a soundtrack to the Sean Penn film of the same name, features 11 original tunes from Vedder that largely fit the mold of "Hard Sun." The songs are acoustic, wistful, earnest and open-hearted, yet boast arrangements and a production style that favors a grand sonic sweep over intimacy, the sound of unique personal dreams writ large (a perfect fit with the film's story, which concerns a young man's hitch-hiking odyssey). Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker and blues harmonica veteran Charlie Musselwhite join Vedder in creating the cinematic atmosphere, but its Vedder's voice that carries the show. Pearl Jam fans will find this release a surprising, but satisfying, change of pace.
Best known as singer for Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder had his musical beginnings in the San Diego funk-rock band Bad Radio. Passed a tape of instrumental tracks played by former Mother Love Bone guitarist Stone Gossard, Vedder recorded a newly written set of lyrics, sent the cassette to Seattle, and the rest is alternative rock history. In the years following Pearl Jam's monumental 1991 debut, TEN, Vedder earned a league of followers with his distinctive baritone, but limited his solo work to two songs with Pakistani Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on the soundtrack for the 1996 film DEAD MAN WALKING. Vedder released his first solo album, a low-key, meditative soundtrack to the Sean Penn-directed INTO THE WILD, in 2007.
Q (Magazine) (p.124) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "The circling banjo of 'No Ceiling' and 'The Wolf''s aptly feral howls evoke long days and cold nights in the wilderness..."