Chris Cornell - Songbook (2011 LP)

Chris Cornell - Songbook

Chris Cornell truly is a musical powerhouse. Most widely known as the lead vocalist and guitarist of Seattle's grunge pioneers, Soundgarden - who will be visiting our shores for the 2012 Big Day Out tour very soon - his work with other bands such as Audioslave, and his solo output, have secured him a wide-reaching base of passionate supporters.

Songbook consists of various live recordings from Cornell's solo acoustic Songbook Tour across America, and for fans of the guy, has a wide selection of songs spanning his entire career, including Led Zeppelin and John Lennon covers. It’s fair to say that this is aimed not only towards his most devoted fans, but also for newbies like myself - and it hits the mark.

One of the most noticeable things about this live release is its atmosphere. It’s mixed in such a way as to incorporate the crowd and the venue acoustics without detracting from Cornell’s rich performance, and whether you like his music or not, there’s no doubt that it sounds great.

That aside, his live efforts themselves are engrossing. His wide-reaching vocal range sounds controlled and held with restraint, expanding and contracting just enough with every emotional nuance and turn. There's still a characteristic hint of grungey husk present, but only in the most intense outpourings does it become overbearing. Armed with an acoustic guitar, stand-outs like “Call Me a Dog” and “Cleaning My Gun” see Cornell’s tremendous falsetto take flight, and “Black Hole Sun” sounds brilliant stripped back.

This is a live album that’ll be enjoyed by both Cornell's devoted fans, and those unfamiliar with his work. Songs full of feeling run through this release, and it's special to hear one man alone on a stage playing with such sincerity and talent.

Review Score: 8.0 out of 10