Eddie Vedder – Music for the Motion Picture: Into the Wild
J Records (9/18/07)
Into the Wild is, in many ways, probably the last album you’d expect from a man who has fronted one of the biggest rock outfits of the past 20 years. Still, Eddie Vedder crafts a nifty little rocking and (for the most part) mellow album that, for some reason, just seems to fall completely short of its goal.
First the positive.
Vedder wrote all the lyrics and performed all the instruments on this release, save for two cover tracks. There’s no stadium anthems on here, everything is low-key, with touches of folk and a mellowness that will remind longtime fans of Pearl Jam’s â€œWho We Areâ€ or â€œFootstepsâ€. The songs have this sort of inner beauty, and tell a beautiful story when taken as a total package.
Sadly, it’s the bad that far outweighs the good here.
It’s telling that Vedder, in interviews prior to the release of the album, said the process happened very quickly. The entire album clocks in at just over a half hour, and that includes a lengthy silence following the last track (preceding a hidden track of sorts) followed by some instrumental work. Eight of the 11 songs are less than three minutes in length, and half of those fail to break the two-minute plateau. I guess that’s fine and good with musicians that can figure out a way to make it work, but here the songs just seem unrealized or unfinished. This is especially apparent on songs like the rocking opener â€œSetting Forthâ€ or â€œFar Behindâ€, that just seem to peter out as soon as they get going. It’s a real shame, because from what’s there, both seem to be strong songs for Vedder to add to his extensive body of work.
It’s also telling when the best song on your album happens to be a coverâ€”in this case, “Hard Sun”, orginally performed by the obscure Canadian outfit Indio. This song is also the longest on the disc, at a little over five minutes in length.
Fleshed out a little more, Into the Wild is a perfectly serviceable soundtrack. There’s some very nice storytelling in here, and the music definitely sets a mood. But as a solo debut, it falls far short. Which is a shame, given the high expectations fans have for Vedder’s work.