Neil Finn

One Nil

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In retrospect, Try Whistling This, Neil Finn's solo debut, seems like a conscious effort to distance himself from Crowded House. Filled with studio trickery, distorted microphones, and trendy vague trip-hop beats, the album was a deliberate move to establish himself as a separate, more adventurous entity from Crowded House -- yet one that remained a gifted, melodic songwriter. This is all put into sharp relief by his second solo album, One Nil, a record that finds him returning to solid ground, delivering his most straightforward album since Crowded House's Woodface. Curiously, for an album that plays to his strengths, a good portion is the result of a fruitful collaboration with Wendy & Lisa, plus a production pairing with Tchad Blake and numerous cameo spots, including Sheryl Crow, Lisa Germano, and Mitchell Froom. For all the guests and star power, the record is surprisingly subtle, lacking the knockout punches of Try Whistling This, where the singles leapt out of the grooves. This time around, the songs are gently insinuating, slowly working their way into the subconscious. Even the songs with the biggest hooks, such as the first single "Rest of the Day Off," aren't as immediate as "She Will Have Her Way." Yet, on repeated plays, the record begins to gel, revealing itself as a reliably solid effort from Finn. There may not be any new revelations, yet the little details -- the turns of phrase, the gently persuasive melodies, the slyly detailed productions -- all confirm his status as a gifted craftsman.

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