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Dave Pirner
FACES AND NAMES
(ARTEMIS)

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On his first solo album, Dave Pirner delves farther into the classic-rock cannon than he ever managed to as the frontman and main songwriter in the Minneapolis band Soul Asylum, and he brings to mind the white soul of Eric Clapton. Pirnerís lyrics draw you into a stream-of-conscious-like realm filled with failed relationships, desperate love, and the fight for survival in everyday life. What sets his solo work apart from his Soul Asylum material is the mellow, almost sultry arrangements of many tracks. The sparse "Feel the Need," for instance, is built around a soulful organ riff, with Pirner sounding like Elvis Costelloís kid brother when his voice reaches its upper register. The heavier, mid-tempo "364" is well served by Pirnerís raspy vocals; the lovely piano ballad "Start Treating People Right" ends the disc on a warmly tuneful note.

Faces and Names has its weak links ó "Iíll Have My Day" and "Levitation" are bland, middle-of-the-road pop efforts for a guy who started his career on the same indie label as the Replacements. But the artful single "Never Recover" is a potent reminder that when heís at the top of his game, Pirner is in Paul Westerbergís league as a songwriter.

BY NEAL ALPERT

Issue Date: November 21 - 28, 2002
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