Music Reviews
Ukulele Songs

Eddie Vedder Ukulele Songs

(Universal Republic) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

Eddie Vedder is an old, old friend of mine. And when you’ve known someone for too long, it becomes hard to find faults in that person, since that familiarity and sense of comfort allows you to overlook mistakes, even if those mistakes come packaged in CD cases with the word “Binaural” plastered on the cover. With the imaginatively-titled Ukulele Songs though, there’s no need for any protective glossing over about the quality of the album. It’s a solemn journey into Vedder’s distinctly poignant and miserable consciousness, through 15 fleeting songs barely a couple of minutes in length, strummed surprisingly enough on a ukulele, and one eight-second refrain of “Hey fahkah”.

Ukulele Songs can aptly be summed up as Vedder’s pensive doppelganger which has been peeking out sporadically over the past decade or so, with none of his Pearl Jam-rage presenting itself here. There’s a distinct sense of introspection in this eclectic collection of original songs and covers. The soft and gentle strumming of the ukulele lends a pondering and thoughtful vibe to the album, with the plush strings of the instrument and Vedder’s brooding baritone allowing for moments of deep contemplation within the sphere of the music itself. Light Today is probably the most subtle and forceful song off the album, as Vedder croons about moments of self-discovery behind tender plucking. The reworked Pearl Jam song Can’t Keep is another delight, kicking off the album with a delicate glimpse into what’s about to unfold. The lyrical content is inward-looking, reflective and even despondent at times – typically Vedder. But his measured approach to writing quietly powerful songs is what sticks out throughout the duration of Ukulele Songs.

For all its underlying quality though, Ukulele Songs is not a particularly easy album to listen to, as it seems to meander on and gets lost within itself at times despite its short length. It’s hardly a patch on the Into the Wild soundtrack, and is probably not the best introductory album to showcase Vedder’s dynamic abilities as a singer and songwriter of unimaginable depths. However, its purpose is a lot more understated, and at the end of the day, Ukulele Songs serves as another reminder of what Vedder remains capable of, and his gradual maturity and evolution as an artist in possession of a truly rare talent; that of being able to communicate and empathize.