Charging on four years after their last full length release in 2012, longstanding Minneapolis outfit Soul Asylum return in 2016 with their eleventh studio album, Change Of Fortune. The record is a testament to the band’s relentless approach to releasing memorable music – illustrating their thirst to release a well-crafted and cultivated rock album. Despite changes to its original members over the years, the band’s ability to harness a clear creative direction is evident in what may be their most polished, and thoughtful release to date.
Lead vocalist and longtime frontman, Dave Pirner, displays a resilient and refreshing projection heard throughout the record. Admirable vocals wind throughout track after track, gripping to hard rock elements whilst welcoming delicate and placid tones that work dynamically throughout Change Of Fortune. Wistful, contemporary yet historically rooted guitar riffs, and the crispy precision of the drums and proper bass guitar work together in definitive detail, unleashing a confident and surging presence heard on the album. Make It Real exposes a modern cohesion with a stripped back, yet delicately preserved early nineties experience, whereas emotions of triumph and nostalgia are explored in the record’s title track Change Of Fortune. There’s a solidified rock and roll resonance in the album’s last track Cool, that also succeeds in harnessing a subtle, funky and sunny zeal. Can’t Help It manages to channel a vintage punch, undeniably giving a nod to a Black Sabbath or Ram Jam influence, employing the use of quick guitar solos and swirling coarse, strong vocals that draw on the band’s early punk foundations. Then there are the softer and more sombre feelings visited in the electronica laced track When I See You, calling on a more sensitive and abstract fashion whilst also serving as a radio friendly, musical cleanse.
Most striking, though, is Soul Asylum’s humanistic presence throughout this record as well as their previous releases. Reflective and unobtrusive, it transmits an open-minded invitation to the listener, posing as a reminder of the band’s ability to be as musically relevant now as they were in the early days. Simplicity, uniqueness, brilliance and fantastic songwriting are all here, as Soul Asylum’s Change Of Fortune brings a revivifying and moving addition to both their consistent repertoire and the alternative rock genre.