Jerry Cantrell has shared the second single and title track from his forthcoming solo album, Brighten, and for those jonesing for the next Alice In Chains album there's a lot to get into here.
Brighten is quintessentially Cantrell, but of course his imprint on the Seattle grunge pioneers' sound is so great that there is naturally a lot of crossover.
That said, Cantrell has dialled down some of the more acrid fatalism of AIC's most-famous works. Brighten opens a sun-kissed classic rock melody in the foreground and lets a sense of baseline anxiety haunt the song as the riff builds towards the song's climax.
It finds Cantrell on a something of a more even emotional keel than on the first single to be released from the album, Atone. That track was inspired by old Morricone western film scores, and has a rich seam of darkness running through its arrangement.
“As a fan of Ennio Morricone scores and Sergio Leone movies,” he explains. “It’s been kicking around in my head for like 20-plus years, haunting me. Sometimes it takes a while for a good idea to find its best form. Such was the case with Atone.”
Brighten has more of a 70s vibe and that is in keeping with the idea behind the project, which sees Cantrell enlist the a supporting cast of musicians including Guns N' Roses legend Duff McKagan on bass, and vocalist Greg Puciato and drummer Gil Sharone formerly of the Dillinger Escape Plan.
A cover of Elton John's Goodbye, from Madman Across The Water, closes the album out, and Cantrell sought the Rocketman's blessing before including it on the record.
“Madman Across The Water is one of my favourite records of all time,” he said. “Out of respect to Elton, I wouldn’t include it unless he said it was okay. He’d played piano on Black Gives Way To Blue, which I wrote for Layne, so I reached out to Elton, he listened to it, and told me 'You should absolutely use it.' I got the sign-off by the man himself. I couldn’t think of a better way to close the record.”
Produced by Tyler Bett, Brighten is scheduled for release on 29 October, and is available to preorder now.
Also available is Gibson's Custom Shop Murphy Lab-aged replica of Cantrell's 'Wino' Les Paul Custom, which is destined to be the ultimate collector's item for AIC fans. It is a Les Paul Custom like no other, with a Fishman Powerbridge piezo system complementing a pair of 490R/498T humbuckers with some on-tap acoustic guitar tones. You can watch Cantrell talk about the guitar below.