7 Worlds Collide - The Sun Came Out

Neil Finn certainly has some impressive friends.

Neil Finn

certainly has some impressive friends. Seven years after assembling a veritable all-star cast for a live performance at St. James in New Zealand, Finn and his friends are back, this time releasing an album of studio tracks featuring another staggering list of guest stars. The proceeds again will benefit Oxfam, and everyone that appears on the album (the commercial release is a double album, while the review copy was a single disc compendium of both discs) appears to be in a truly giving mood, delivering heartfelt, passionate originals that take Finn’s gift for melody and harmonics and truly flesh them out with their own unique talents. It’s an uplifting, optimistic affair that finds all the artists in fine form, even when some of them (Phil Selway sings!) are seemingly out of their respective comfort zones.

The album kicks off with a bouncy little number, ‘Too Blue’, that was co-written by Johnny Marr and Jeff Tweedy, and features Finn and Marr on vocals, along with Ed O’Brien, Phil Selway, and Glenn Kotche making up the rest of the band. It’s followed up by a lively Jeff Tweedy original, ‘You Never Know’, that would fit perfectly on any Wilco record, but really shines here. There are some George Harrison elements to Tweedy’s breezy vocals, as well as elements of Sly & The Family Stone’s ‘Everyday People’ layered in the melody. It’s a wonderful song that finds the band really sounding comfortable with each other, despite their disparate styles. ‘Little By Little’ is a nice duet between Sharon and Neil Finn, with both of their vocals meshing wonderfully over a jaunty backbeat. It continues a theme of positive, upbeat songs that is threaded throughout the album, all adding up to a rewarding listen.

‘Learn To Crawl’ is a gorgeously hushed acoustic number that was co-written by O’Brien, Marr, and Liam & Neil Finn, and finds Marr deftly picking out the melody on his guitar and Finn delivering the delicate vocals over the hypnotic melody. ‘Girl Make Your Own Mind Up’ is written and sung by longtime New Zealand musician Don McGlashan, and is an understated, affecting track. KT Tunstall adds her lively, spirited vocals to ‘Black Silk Ribbon’, which is a countrified delight, and again keeps the mood of the album light and bubbly. The album does take a bit of a somber turn on the ghostly, down-tempo number ‘Red Wine Bottle’, featuring the splendid vocals of Liam Finn. Tunstall features again on the exquisite ‘Black Silk Ribbon’, this time duetting with the legendary New Zealand singer Bic Runga on this truly moving song. Marr picks the energy level of the album up a bit, as well as undertaking vocal duties on a track that he penned, the wistful ‘Run In The Dust’. It’s a lovely song that features an extended coda that really allows Marr the freedom to stretch out a bit on guitar.

Radiohead drummer Phil Selway wrote and sang vocals (a first for him) on the plaintive ‘Ties That Bind Us’, which features a wonderful, Nick Drake-like string arrangement, and, surprisingly, very little drums. Selway’s vocals are actually very accomplished and fit the song perfectly. He also sang and wrote another song on the two-disc set, ‘The Witching Hour’, which isn’t on the one-disc review copy. Tweedy takes the vocal reigns again on ‘What Could Have Been’, a rueful, reflective track that is guided along by Tweedy’s heartfelt vocals and moving lyrics. It’s a gorgeous song, steeped in emotion and heart, which again is a recurring theme on this album, with all of the artists involved in this project delivering honest, poignant performances of their passionate songs.

Australian musician Glenn Richards (Augie March) wrote and sang ‘Duxton Blues’, which is a driving, ruminative track. Lisa Germano closes out the record with the playful ‘Reptile’, so playful in fact that you can even hear her laughing throughout the song. It’s this type of easy familiarity and natural comfort level that really allows these simple songs to work so well, with all of the artists seemingly checking their egos at the door, and offering up their services to the spirit of both the music and the cause, leaving the listener in awe of all the assembled talents as well as Neil Finn’s extensive Rolodex.

Tags: Liam Finn, Reviews, Album Reviews

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