Say what you will about Chris Cornell: His goatee is awful, his refusal to wear a shirt with sleeves is deplorable, and that last Audioslave album wasn't exactly a masterpiece. But even while committing crimes against music and fashion, Cornell offers one of the most disarming voices in rock, a low-yet-soaring howl that can make just about any song worth listening to.
But on Carry On, his second solo outing, the now 42-year-old rocker reaches a crossroads. Recorded last year, just as Audioslave's members were going their separate ways, Carry On represents an artist looking back more than moving forward. Throughout, Cornell delivers the strutting rock he's become known for ("No Sure Thing") as well as the hazy psychedelia ("Scar On The Sky") he experimented with on his first solo album, Euphoria Morning. Which is a bit surprising. Where other artists might've worked out a new sound, Cornell played to his strengths. That isn't a deal-breaker; Cornell's voice still carries him through. But as even he must know by now, sometimes the difference between a transcendent album and a decent one is the amount of risk taken.