Familial was fostered by Neil Finn's 2001 all-star concerts, through which Radiohead drummer Philip Selway established connections with multi-instrumentalist Lisa Germano and bassist Sebastian Steinberg. In 2009, Finn and his cast of dozens recorded an album under the same name as the concerts, 7 Worlds Collide, titled The Sun Came Out. Selway contributed a pair of hushed, folk-tinged songs to the album, both of which demonstrated a natural way with understated yet penetrating songwriting. Slightly different versions of those two songs, “The Ties That Bind Us” and “The Witching Hour,” are featured on his first solo album. The eight new songs are in a similar vein, sifting through adulthood, parenthood, regret, and dissolving relationships. Germano and Steinberg, along with Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche (who played on the 7WC album) and keyboardist Patrick Sansone, support Selway, who mostly sticks to guitar and vocals. Vocally and melodically, Selway’s closest contemporary is Luke Haines (circa the first two Auteurs albums, especially), carrying a constant fragile lilt with a magnetic pull. Selway’s lyrics are humane, however -- they soothe far more frequently than seethe. They’re often direct and vivid, as on “Ties,” in which he addresses his son: “So take me back to a time before I lost my nerve and the trail went cold/I want to know there’s another way/I want to shield you from my mistakes.” Nothing gets the blood pumping, but that clearly is not the intent. These largely acoustic songs, occasionally embellished with electronics and other effects, are geared for a quiet evening spent alone. Subtle, touching albums like this should be made more often, preferably by Selway and his associates here.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman