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Craig Finn | I Need a New War

The Hold Steady frontman acts his age on his quietly powerful fourth solo release.

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Craig Finn has apparently had his fill of massive nights. These days, the 47-year-old singer-songwriter and Hold Steady frontman is reportedly trying to act his age — artistically speaking — and write smaller songs about more mundane characters dealing with everyday topics. And after one spin of his latest solo album I Need a New War, there’s only one possible reaction: Mission accomplished. The quietly powerful 10-track set – his fourth solo release and the final part of a trilogy preceded by 2015’s Faith in the Future and 2017’s We All Want the Same Things — bears little musical resemblance to his day job. You won’t find any fist-pumping arena-rock anthems here; they’ve been replaced by intimate slow-burners tinged with soul, R&B and jazz, and graced with everything from pulsing keyboards to horns and female backup vocals. Things are slightly more familiar on the lyrical front — drugs, religion, bars and bad decisions still factor heavily in grim, literate narratives. But true to his word, these characters aren’t partying hard and starring in colourful criminal misadventures; they’re toiling at dead-end jobs, binge-watching TV, living in crappy apartments and aimlessly drifting through life. So much for staying positive. Unless you’re Finn, of course — with these songs, he’s made it clear that his best days lay ahead.