So, I was asked recently about my affection for Neil Finn and his music. “Why? What is it about him?” – I shrugged my shoulders and said I wasn’t overly sure.
Truth is though, I lied. I do know exactly what it is about Neil Finn and it’s kept me with him for over 20 years.
It is multi-faceted and not something easily explainable, but deep down, I know.
His voice, his melody’s, his lyrics, his energy, his banter on stage, his wit (Which can be seen in the next 2 brilliant clips), his sincerity, I could go on.
His songs give me comfort, they bring me joy.
At live gigs, time stands still and I lose myself there. Immersed. I connect. I have a connection.
It’s all I ask from any artist, but with Neil Finn, solo or other, I connect deep.
Now, the thing is… Neil Finn’s songs just do not lend themselves for instant reviews. They never have and I doubt they ever will.
Even the more immediate tunes that grab you have a subtle tendency to reveal something new and fresh after more than a few listens – sometimes after more than a few years. I am aware of that, but I wanted to say something about “Dizzy Heights”, his new solo offering.
So, I figured I would leave it a while and then get my thoughts down – but however I tried, what I wrote was neither objective nor really a review.
And as a self-confessed diehard fan, my view of “Dizzy Heights” is already distorted because I love the man and accept that for every song I love, there will be a few that miss the target and you know what, I even find things I like in those.
With that in mind, I stopped writing a review and decided to see where the songs would take my mind. I have been using a lot of Finn’s music as soundtracks and inspiration to my words for a long time now, so between poetry, a gig review and a late night emotional rant, I have managed to use all bar one song on “Dizzy Heights”. The links to these are below.
Now, as an aside and before you click the links, there are only a few people I speak to that even know who he is, let alone his music that has endured for the best part of 30 years.
Neil Finn is a singer / songwriter from New Zealand and via Split Enz, Crowded House, Finn Brothers and Pajama Club – alongside other projects such as the collaborative Seven worlds collide – you will know a lot of his songs, you may just not realise it was him.
Never did a tag line “You know more Crowded House songs that you think you do” really and truly describe a best of CD. It was spot on and Recurring Dream (The original best of CD) was pretty much catapulted to the top of the UK charts on the back of that piece of clever marketing. Crowded House was / is Neil’s main musical vehicle, but despite recording a few tracks for the next CD, the band are on hold for a while.
In the meantime, Finn has been active working on “Dizzy Heights”, his 3rd solo offering behind “Try Whistling This” and “One Nil” (not including One All for this)
However, Neil’s last release was neither solo nor Crowded House, it was a collaboration with his wife Sharon and a guy called Sean Donnelly on the LO-FI project “Pajama Club”.
It was a fusion of drum and bass with electronica added on top. The songs were not the classic sound fans were used to, from either the song writing, to the texture or to the sound.
Hooks and melody were replaced by a driving, thumping soundtrack that did it’s best to be everything Crowded House wasn’t.
Yet, that wasn’t a bad thing and it spawned a few tracks that were pretty damn good by any standards. “From a Friend to a Friend”, “Deadleg”, “Diamonds in her Eyes” and “Golden Child” may have had a different “Finn” sound that split the fans, but were more than worthy additions to the Finn back catalogue.
And it’s clear that “Dizzy Heights” is a continuation of sorts from this CD – more evolution than revolution – where the songs on Pajama Club had the feel that they really were contrived in the Finn living room over a few bottles of wine – “Dizzy Heights” goes that next step.
With the rest of the family on the CD, Wife Sharon and sons Liam and Elroy, Neil has managed to put together a remarkable CD with the help of producer David Fridmann. Lush string arrangements and weird electronic twists compliment the vocals all the way through the CD and my word, they certainly add an amazing dimension to the sound.
The songs themselves feel more in the mould that the fan base is used to. Sparse lyrics on Pajama Club replaced by something more substantial, whichever way Neil has constructed and found them.
Now, fans have already been treated to stripped back versions of a few songs on this CD. Webcasts and showcases with Victoria Kelly and a string section have featured just Neil on piano and some percussion joining in to create some stunning, heartfelt and wonderful versions of the songs.
However, Neil had warned people that the final songs would be different and he is of course correct – from my listening perspective, it’s on a win most, lose a couple basis, but it continues to unfold with each listen.
So, in running order, please click the link to hear the songs and read my words. Some of the poetry is dark, as is my natural way – check out this link – and if you are interested, there is plenty more Split Enz, Crowded House, Pajama Club and solo songs within the blog, so feel free to have a look around.
Flying in the face of Love: https://eyewillnotcry.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/flying-in-the-face-of-love/
White Lies and Alibies: https://eyewillnotcry.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/holding-on-to-nothing-sacred/
Finally, the only song that I didn’t touch was “Lights of New York” and it can be found below.
I hope you enjoy!