Eddie Vedder has multiple faces; he is known as the crooning, wild and uncontrollable front man of Pearl Jam, the folksy, soft-spoken singer-songwriter for the movie Into the Wild and most recently, a surreal and tranquil ukulele player. Following ’07’s Into the Wild, Vedder has now released his second solo album titled, Ukulele Songs.
Eddie Vedder can do many things; he is a talented artist that is always expressing himself in different ways. This is the case with Ukulele Songs. 16 songs, each one less than four minutes in length, shows Vedder going through themes of loneliness, sadness and desire, over infectious chord progressions that set the mood for a nice day of relaxing, or hanging out on the beach.
“Can’t Keep” begins with fast strumming, and chords that have a heavy, Pearl Jam likeness to them. Vedder’s baritone vocal style has not aged a bit; he can still manipulate his voice with ease, crescendoing from quiet, to loud in an instant.
“Without You” is absolutely catchy; poppy chord progressions and a chorus that will be hummed and whistled for days to come, “Without You” is nicely done. The 1929 “More Than You Know,” is done justice by Vedder. His cover of the classic is a nice addition, and it shows his ability to confidently tackle songs, and put his own spin on it.
“Broken Heart” has a melancholic, waltz-like feel, slowing down and starting up again as Vedder sings about a failed love, and what it produces. “Longing to Belong” features Vedder’s ukulele with that of a cello. The vulnerability in his voice on this song goes well with his longing, desire to be with whoever he is referring to.
“Light Today” is calming; with not much changing in the ukulele part, and the ocean waves looming in the background, Vedder allows his voice to float over the song, his voice full of shaking conviction. “Once in a While” is another cover that is coolly done by Vedder. Keeping it in a doo-wop feel, the chord progressions are beautiful; Vedder keeps up with the changes with no difficulty, making the classic his own.
Ending with another cover, Vedder closes out with “Dream a Little Dream.” Beautifully done, Vedder’s cover creates a serene atmosphere, his voice soft, but powerful, only strengthened by the ukulele’s strumming.
Reflective and somber, Ukulele Songs carries a melancholic feel throughout the album. It is enjoyable, and the covers are done in a way that still retains its origins, while adding some new flavor to it. Vedder’s singing of heart break and lost love could become redundant for some listeners, but overall the album strangely creates a mood of relaxation.
More poppy sounding than that of his Pearl Jam work, Ukulele Songs shows a different side of Vedder; it is a side that reflects his life by the ocean, a calming and reassuring aid to Vedder’s melancholic sound. Simple, natural sounding and pure, Ukulele Songs brings music back to a minimalist state, with Vedder showing that every once in awhile it is always good to just relax, and allow the music to take you away.