Album Review: Chris Cornell – Euphoria Morning

Chris Cornell, lead singer and songwriter of the grunge group Soundgarden, which broke up in 1997, came back to his audience with music that was much more different than what he had ever done before. His first solo album, Euphoria Morning, released in 1999, gave way to a new beginning for this incredibly talented singer after parting ways with his previous band. This album is nothing like his work with Soundgarden. By the time Soundgarden’s Down on the Upside was released in 1997, it was becoming a bit noticeable that the singer was looking for something different. Chris had already shown his aspirations as a solo artist with his contributions to Cameron Crowe’s film, Singles, in 1992. What this record showcases is not the typical sludge metal, grunge sound that is familiar in Cornell’s past. This is more of an experiment which pulls in influences from psychedelic rock. Euphoria Morning is not an over produced arena rock album like Soundgarden’s records, albeit they are all excellent. Cornell’s singing is more organic and much more intimate here. This is not to say that Euphoria Morning is not a big production, but it sounds more natural. Natasha Shneider and Alain Johannes from the band Eleven, are key figures on this record as both of them assist with all the production and most of the musical accompaniment. Euphoria Morning is a record that invokes several different moods and explores a vast landscape of emotion with superlative songwriting.

01 Can’t Change Me
05 When I’m Down
09 Sweet Euphoria
11 Pillow of Your Bones

The album kicks off with the single, “Can’t Change Me”. This was the most successful song from the album to hit commercial charts. Chris sings of true love that most can relate to with this rock ballad. It is one of the most amazing pop songs I’ve ever heard. Next is “Flutter Girl”, which is actually a song written with Soundgarden during the Superunknownsessions in 1993, but was later reworked for this record. “Preaching the End of The World” is a beautiful acoustic tune about seeking a friend to have during the impending end of existence. Though it implies an apocalyptic theme, it is a gleeful song full of spacey atmosphere. “Follow My Way”, is a more edgy song with glistening mandolin. “When I’m Down” truly illustrates Chris’s ability to sing a blues-tinged tune with soul. It’s another love song with beautiful piano in the beginning before the full band comes in. The song has a sense of urgency to it, flowing between happiness and sadness. This track is also backed with Natasha Shneider on vocals. The middle of the song enters with more laid back, Jeff Buckley type vocals. This is simply one of the highlights of the album. “Mission” is the hardest song off the album. Though it does not seem to fit the flow of the album, it is an enjoyable shift in some ways with its psychedelic feel. “Wave Goodbye” was written as a tribute to Jeff Buckley, whom Chris deeply admired. The song has mostly a wah effect on guitar. It’s another tune with genuine lyrics not necessarily about depression, but about somehow being lost or confused. It also has a nice groove to it. “Moonchild” is a good song, though not one of the best. “Sweet Euphoria” is an all-acoustic solo, giving a melancholy and lonely feel to it. It’s a beautiful song, though it does not showcase Chris’s soaring vocals that everyone loves to hear. Definitely one of the most touching and cryptic songs of lyrics with, “Time wilts like flowers/Sleeping on landmine pillows/With dying angels”. “Disappearing One” is another great tune with Chris singing his heart out. It also has a lovely introduction with clarinets. “Pillow of Your Bones” is one of the darkest on the record. The singing and melody of this song are wonderful. Chris takes some interesting turns with his vocals as it’s filled with different dynamics. He also uses some eerie overdubs. The song is primarily an acoustic based song, though it has a rock feel. The drumming is also fantastic with its creepy and dark brushes. Towards the end of the song, there is some of the most powerful acoustic guitar that I have ever heard. The album ends with “Steel Rain”, which has an enigmatic feel to it that flows through the room with echoing and heavy vocals.

Euphoria Morning is one of those treasures that most solo artists cannot live up to. Chris is undoubtedly a diverse and magnificent vocalist, who can belt like no one I have heard. This record was the only split between Soundgarden and when Chris went to join Audioslave. It is evident that he gives this record his best and the effort shows. This is an album for open minded listeners who can deal with it not being another Soundgarden or Audioslave record. It’s a wonderful acoustic based solo record that can also be enjoyed by grunge listeners, people who like Jeff Buckley or for those who are looking for that lost gem that never made it to the spotlight.

-Amirata Mahallati