A Legacy of Rentals by Craig Finn Album review by Robert Duguay for Northern Transmissions

Positive Jams/Thirty Tigers

7.6

Craig Finn

A Legacy of Rentals

Brooklyn via Minnesota sonic bard Craig Finn highlights different things via his solo output versus what he’s done with The Hold Steady and Lifter Puller. His trademark storytelling is amplified while the music explores various styles such as folk, new wave and alternative. As the grit of his guitar wanes, the expansive sounds and boundary-pushing approaches fill the void. Finn’s fifth studio album, A Legacy Of Rentals, that came out on May 20 exemplifies all of what I just mentioned. It goes down an intriguing artistic path that’s often eclectic but it stays true to the musical foundation that’s become part of his identity.

There’s a reflective vibe within the album and that’s due to the theme of memory encompassing the record. Memories of ones who have passed on, how places have changed over the years and major events that are part of the journey we call life. Finn relays these memories in a very personal fashion, so it’s understandable that in the liner notes he says “This record is very special to me, and I think a bit different than anything I’ve done before.” Some of the best art materializes when the artist unleashes their soul onto the blank canvas, and this is the musical example of that. When it comes to how honest he is towards the craft of songwriting, you
shouldn’t expect anything less from Finn.

Along with Finn, there’s a ton of other musicians involved in the album. Josh Kaufman handled the production while also playing guitar, bass, piano, synthesizers, a Wurlitzer and even a conga just to name a few. Joe Russo performed on drums and percussion while both Cassandra Jenkins and Annie Nero contributed backing vocals. Stuart Bogie played tenor sax while Trey Pollard conducted a string orchestra consisting of numerous violins, violas and cellos. This amount of talent involved makes A Legacy Of Rentals that much more special. It also explains how each track sounds different from the others and how it’s tough to nail down which category the music fits in, as if the latter is that important anyways.

“Messing With The Settings” is an excellent example of how Finn can tell an in-depth story. The kind of story that forms pictures in one's mind with the track itself weaving between an orchestral chorus and rhythmic spoken word. There’s a bit of funkiness within “The Amarillo Kid” and the synth adds a little touch of panache as the song sort of has a Tom Petty-esque aesthetic. Leaning towards the electronic side is “A Break From The Barrage” while reincorporating spoken word with both Jenkins and Nero having a vocal presence. Other great songs include “Birthdays”, “Due to Depart” and “Jessamine”.

If you’re a fan of Finn’s work of The Hold Steady and Lifter Puller, you should check out his latest solo release for am artistic departure from those acts. It shows another side of what he can do musically and at times it can be refreshing. If you’re just getting into Finn’s music, then dive into the music of his other projects. In the meantime, enjoy his freshest work so far which is
bound to spark some thoughts and emotions.

Order A Legacy of Rentals by Craig Finn HERE