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Soul Asylum
The Silver Lining
Legacy Records

I suppose I am revealing my age by telling you this, but I first remember hearing Soul Asylum back in junior high - the beginning of my angst-ridden teen years. How wonderfully annoyed lead vocalist Dave Pirner was in the "Runaway Train" video. Oh, and that messy hair and grungy flannel shirt…This was a band that spoke to my young soul.

I had high hopes when my editor gave me The Silver Lining. Perhaps this was to be the start of a renaissance in rock music. A little more anger, a little less screaming and missing entirely would be that poppy punk from the radio. I've grown out of my torment, so I hoped that one of the bands I had loved listening to a decade ago had too.

The lyrics of track one, "Stand Up And Be Strong," seem to be aimed at the struggling listener - a bit of a self-help affirmation set against the backdrop of music. And it was upon listening to the lyrics again and again that I knew that co-founders Pirner and Dan Murphy were still melancholic. "You might just think that your life has gone on for too long," Pirner tells me. Um, nope, but thanks for trying to talk me off the ledge, but should I call a hotline for you? "You might have to fight, you might have to cry… stand up and be strong," he continues.

I understand that the band has undergone a lot since their last studio album in 1998, including the death of bassist (and third founding member) Karl Mueller in 2005, but I just couldn't get into this CD - the lyrics were aimed at the listener, but I found myself thinking that this was a cry for help.

In track four, "All Is Well," I determined the real tone of the album; I learned that "all is well in hell." Track eight, "Success Is Not So Sweet," continues the downward spiral. "You could try to save me, I'll try to save you."

All twelve songs have happy, upbeat beats and rhythms. The lyrics, however, make me want to weep. It's like listening to a person with serious problems tell you he or she is fine, but you can hear the despair and self-deprecation in his or her voice.

Pirner and Murphy are as poignant as ever, but it's in those lyrics that they fail for me. I felt the storm clouds, but I couldn't find The Silver Lining. I think old fans are going to feel the same way. And, as far as new fans, this wouldn't fly with the kids. No way would this touch the heart of my fifteen-year-old cousin the way that their old music touched mine in junior high.

-Leigh Medina

Track Listing:
1. Stand Up And Be Strong?
2. Lately?
3. Crazy Mixed Up World?
4. All Is Well?
5. Bus Named Desire?
6. Watcha Need?
7. Standing Water?
8. Success Is Not So Sweet?
9. The Great Exaggerator?
10. Oxygen?
11. Good For You?
12. Slowly Rising

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