Eddie Vedder - Ukulele Songs
If there isn't an old saying that states "a little ukulele goes a long way," there should be.
It's hard to say that you didn't know what to expect with this album... it's right there in the album's title, so I kind of feel stupid for complaining about it. I really liked Eddie Vedder's solo work on the soundtrack to Into the Wild, so I figured I'd give his first proper solo album a whirl. And it's not like it's bad or anything. Despite the fact that his career began an angry young singer from the Seattle grunge scene, his various solo material has proved that Vedder sounds equally great singing with acoustic backing. But after sixteen songs with pretty much nothing but ukulele as accompaniment, things start to get a little same-y. The credits indicate that he used at least six different kinds of ukuleles in recording the album, but that just doesn't give it the sonic variety that it really could have used. The appearance of cello on one song ("Longing To Belong") indicates the kind of subtle accompaniment variation that could have been accomplished by adding a few different instruments to the mix while still keeping the theme of the album. I just can't help but think I would have enjoyed this album more if there was some acoustic guitar or piano in the background.
That's not to say there aren't some good songs on here. The first half is front loaded with originals, including a new take on "Can't Keep" from Pearl Jams's Riot Act. Four of the last five songs are covers, and it's at that point that the album really starts to wear out it's wecome, despite the appearances of Chan Marshall (Cat Power) and Glen Hansard (The Frames/The Swell Season) on backing vocals. I keep wanting to compare it to the scene in Blue Valentine where Ryan Gossling serenades Michelle Williams. It's a great scene, but if Gossling would have been playing ukulele in every scene in the movie, it would have gotten old pretty quick. I feel like if Vedder had released in EP called Ukulele Songs instead of an album, I'd have liked it a lot more. Maybe when the songs pop up individually on shuffle on my iPod, I will.
Eddie Vedder - "Sleeping By Myself" (mp3) from Ukulele Songs