Alice in Chains guitarist and vocalist Jerry Cantrell has released the first single, “Atone,” from his upcoming solo album, Brighten, out October 29th.
“Atone” is a heavy track, although it’s undergirded by a sinister twang while the guitar riffs hit with grit and menace, as well as a bit of psychedelic unease. “Running out of time,” Cantrell wails right before the hook, “Gotta find a way to atone/Gotta find a way to atone/Trying to find a way to atone.”
“Atone” arrives with a music video, which Cantrell co-directed with photographer musician Jim Louvau, singer/guitarist Greg Puciato, visual artist Jesse Draxler, and photographer Tony Aguilera. The black-and-white clip follows Cantrell as he performs the song and wanders through places like Joshua Tree, the Salton Sea, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.
“As a fan of Ennio Morricone scores and Sergio Leone movies, it’s got a bit of that outlaw vibe, with a cool psycho hillbilly stomp,” Cantrell said of “Atone” in a statement. “It’s been kicking around in my head for like 20-plus years, haunting me. Sometimes it takes a while for a good idea to find its best form. Such was the case with ‘Atone.’”
Brighten marks Cantrell’s first proper solo release in nearly 20 years, following his 2002 double album, Degradation Trip Volumes 1 and 2 (he has released three LPs with Alice In Chains in that time, most recently 2018’s Rainier Fog). The new album came after Cantrell played a handful of solo shows in Los Angeles with a unique group of musicians, some of whom later appeared on the album. Cantrell co-produced Brighten with Tyler Bates and longtime engineer Paul Fig. The album’s contributors include Puciato, Gil Sharone, Duff McKagan,, Abe Laboriel, Jr., Michael Rozon, Vincent Jones, Jordan Lewis, Lola Bates, and Matias Ambrogi-Torres.
“It was like an old school seventies record where a multitude of musicians played,” Cantrell said. “So it’s not a set band. I got to make music with a bunch of people I never had before, along with friends like Duff, Tyler, and Gil who I’ve worked with previously.”
Brighten also closes with a cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye,” which John himself approved. “Madman Across the Water is one of my favorite records of all time,” Cantrell said. “Out of respect to Elton, I wouldn’t include it unless he said it was OK. He’d played piano on ‘Black Gives Way to Blue,’ which I wrote for Layne, so I reached out to Elton, he listened to it, and told me ‘You should absolutely use it.’ I got the signoff by the man himself. I couldn’t think of a better way to close the record!”
3. “Prism of Doubt”
4. “Black Hearts and Evil Done”
5. “Siren Song”
6. “Had To Know”
7. “Nobody Breaks You”
9. “Goodbye” (Elton John cover)