Craig Finn: Faith in the Future

The Hold Steady's frontdude turns rambling man on a strong solo offering

Credit: Shawn Brackbill

Craig Finn’s second solo set has been billed as his New York album, but the eternal Midwest transplant steers the looming dread and thin hope of these vivid strugglers' tales through Colorado, Pennsylvania, Arizona and other map-points en route to the Empire State. It's less about literal place than emotion, per usual, and the positivity here is more unsteady than on Finn's anthems with the Hold Steady. On "Maggie, I've Been Searching For Our Son," a believer recovering from a Branch Davidian-style siege seeks an alternative redemption. Elsewhere, women confront dubious choices ("Sarah Calling From A Hotel") and moments smack of memoir (is the band in "Roman Guitars" playing a Lifter Puller song?). The arrangements trump Finn's 2011 solo debut, upscaling that album's roots rock with choral backdrops and horn charts that recall the Van Morrison gestures of The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle. It's a good call for a literary songwriter who deserves, and earns, a broad canvas.