Chris Cornell flew toward the sun with 2009's Scream but he got burned. The Timbaland-produced album marked a sudden shift toward electronic pop, a move that did not sit well with either critics or Cornell's audience, but he didn't react swiftly to the derision. He moved slowly, revisiting his catalog on 2011's Songbook and then reuniting with Soundgarden before releasing Higher Truth some six years after Scream. Hiring producer Brendan O'Brien, a fellow veteran of the grunge wars of the '90s, suggests Cornell is backpedaling from the chilly electro surfaces of his last solo album, but Higher Truth isn't quite a retreat. Cornell possess an easy, quiet confidence throughout this handsome, burnished record, an album that occasionally recalls the breaking twilight of Euphoria Mourning but feels warmer and looser than that 1999 solo debut. Despite the ornate accouterments of the opener "Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart" -- a pop single so stately it's almost Baroque -- Higher Truth isn't especially dramatic. O'Brien favors subtle shading over bombast, so even when the tracks are built up with pianos, strings, harmonies, and fuzz guitars, it feels intimate, almost acoustic. This illusion persists because there are a fair share of spare, delicate solo numbers here, interwoven among those bolder but still quiet pop tunes. While Higher Truth never seems as self-consciously confessional as Euphoria Mourning, this mellow simplicity is an attribute: a relaxed Cornell creates a comforting mood piece that's enveloping in its warmth.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine