Following the demise of Soundgarden in 1997, everyone was curious what Chris Cornell would do next. Would he immerse himself in another band where he could display his blood-curdling screams or would he surprise everyone with something totally different? He chose the latter. With Natasha Shneider on keys and Alain Johannes on guitars, Cornell found the opportunity to break away from his heavily Zeppelin and Sabbath-rooted musical background, and he also asked some other musicians to make an appearance on the record.
The result is a very diverse album, highlighting Cornell's immediately identifiable vocals and relatively more simpler songwriting. That said, he had the chance to incorporate a multitude of other instruments, including tambourine, theremin, and timpani. Besides the trademark blues rock-ridden songs that helped Cornell make a name for himself, he also digs deep into psychedelia, best heard on "Preaching the End of the World", a song that finds Cornell opting for thick, Radiohead-like arrangements, lofty acoustics, and a strange mix of keyboard and guitar effects. Not too different is "Disappearing One", guesting Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron with its moving vocal melodies, shimmering keyboards and even a vague clarinet addition.
Surely, Soundgarden fans expecting a very heavy record with meaty guitars and lots of aggressive vocals will be sorely disappointed. But they need to realize Euphoria Morning was meant to be different way before Cornell started working on it. Solo projects serve the purpose of letting the artists express themselves in ways they are unable to in their own bands. And considering this, Euphoria Morning is a huge success. That said, there are still some songs where the band behind Cornell churns out some rocking riffs and rhythms, such as "Flutter Girl" and especially "Pillow of Your Bones" during the chorus. The former starts out in an almost poppy fashion but quickly picks up a playful funk bass line and is finished off with a cool blues lead; whereas the latter is more straightforward, employing lots of acoustic and electric guitars as well as weird percussion work. The final song "Steel Rain" is also a number that alternates between decidedly heavier parts and more haunting, ominous moments. The ethnic drumming (great tabla rhythms) on this track is quite experimental given Cornell's music with Soundgarden and later on with Audioslave.
"Follow My Way" and "When I'm Down" are the most moving songs, with the latter featuring a deft piano and organ melody beneath Cornell's heartfelt delivery. This is another song that embraces his love for bluesy guitar work and it also features some female backing harmonies during its pre-chorus. Similarly, the title track is a passionate piece where Cornell sings entirely a capella over acoustic guitars. There are no other instruments; Cornell plays his guitar and simply sings his heart out. A remix of the effect-laden "Mission" would later be included on the Mission Impossible 2 soundtrack while "Moonchild" became a minor hit with its eerie atmosphere along with the opening song "Can't Change Me", perhaps the most modern-sounding, upbeat song on the album. Despite being only three minutes though, its flow is majestic, borrowing harmonica, tambourine and shimmering keyboards that climax at the final second.
The European copy of the album contains a very different version of the opening song, with French lyrics, accordion, mandolin, and female vocals backing Cornell. The song returns to its English chorus at one point, but the rest is all delivered in French and perhaps more engaging than the original version in some ways.
Chris Cornell is one of the greatest voices in rock and this solo album is testimony to his greatness. When freed from any band restrictions, the man is capable of crafting some of the most moving and brutally honest songs ever.
- Can't Change Me
- Flutter Girl
- Preaching the End of the World
- Follow My Way
- When I'm Down
- Wave Goodbye
- Sweet Euphoria
- Disappearing One
- Pillow of Your Bones
- Steel Rain