Craig Finn – I need a new war

A reverential fan of Paul Westerberg and The Replacements, The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn returns with his third solo album, owing perhaps more to Westberg’s solo, introspective, work than to the guitar overdrive of the former’s punk riddled outfit.  Mostly acoustic, yet heavily layered, I need a new war sees Finn strip his songs right back to their melodic core; finding a poppy hook and staying there for as long as necessary to make his point.  Opener ‘Blankets’ is also the standout on the album with its Pete Yorn style of warm acoustic pop and Bukowski-esque narrative “I moved her to Montana/ we hung on for several summers/ it got druggy and we crumbled/ but still I never haven’t loved her”.   Providing similar storytelling across War’s ten songs, Finn is on fine form; exploring horns and soul (‘Magic Marker’) and gentleness (Holyoke) on an album that is as interesting narratively as it is musically.  Westerberg better watch his back.