Announcing his abrupt but unsurprising departure from Audioslave earlier this year, Chris Cornell -- already preparing to release Carry On -- spoke of wanting to explore avenues as a solo performer that weren´t possible in a band. On his new album, however, Cornell goes for straight-ahead arrangements, keeps his vocal performances fairly understated, and does little by way of taking advantage of the studio as an instrument. Strangely, for a man so recently freed of having to collaborate, Cornell barely touches the boundless creativity he once exhibited as the wailing force at the center of Soundgarden´s tempestuous fury. And though it does hint at an unorthodox cleverness in spots, old fans will likely listen to Carry On wondering when the artist they know and love is going to show up. Worse, at times it sounds like he may never come back -- many of these songs suffer from an overt radio-friendly mindset that seems unfairly neutral coming from visionaries like himself and the production/mix team of Steve Lillywhite and Dave Sardy. Cornell does touch on his oft-subdued love of classic soul; he also provides the new James Bond theme and reinterprets Michael Jackson´s ¨Billie Jean.¨ But even Soundgarden conveyed that love with more verve almost 20 years ago with an Ohio Players cover that, for all its obscurity and lurching irreverence, is bound to outlast anything on Carry On.
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