Iconic singer, songwriter, guitarist, and Alice In Chains co-founder Jerry Cantrell returns with the release of his first single “Atone” out today, from Cantrell’s new album, Brighten.
“Atone” is a heavy track, although its undergirded by a sinister twang while the guitar riffs hit with grit and menace, as well as a bit of psychedelic unease. “Running out of time,” Cantrell wails right before the hook, “Gotta find a way to atone/Gotta find a way to atone/Trying to find a way to atone.”
Right from the jump, the riff rolls like a runaway freight train underscored by cinematic twang. As the momentum builds, he intones the hummable hook before a psychedelic break, and a hard-hitting hook evocative of the album’s incendiary spirit.
The video is a perfect accompaniment to the song as it is a compilation of black & white footage of Jerry playing the song in outdoor locations such as Joshua Tree, the Salton Sea, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. It was creative directed as a group effort by Jerry; Photographer/Musician Jim Louvau; singer/guitarist Greg Puciato; visual artist Jesse Draxler; and Photographer Tony Aguilera.
Talking about “Atone”, Jerry says, “As a fan of Ennio Morricone scores and Sergio Leone movies, it’s got a bit of that outlaw vibe, with a cool psycho hillbilly stomp” he explains. “It’s been kicking around in my head for like 20-plus years, haunting me. Sometimes it takes a while for a good idea to find its best form. Such was the case with Atone.”
The veteran rock artist delivers by offering up another dimension of his recognisable guitar sounds while at the same time featuring his signature vocals.
Jerry says, “I’ve been in the band for almost 34 years now. It’s always my first and foremost commitment, but it’s nice to explore different things and add another chapter to a growing body of work. After the last AIC tour wrapped, I geared my mind towards the possibility of making another record of my own.”
Cantrell played a pair of sold-out solo shows in Los Angeles joined by an eclectic group of musicians and friends, several of whom appear on Brighten.
Jerry continues, “It was fun to play tunes I hadn’t performed in years from Boggy Depot and Degradation Trip. Tyler Bates not only introduced me to a lot of cool players, he also helped me put the band together for the shows, and performed with me.
Brighten spawned from those gigs.
“It was like an old school seventies record where a multitude of musicians played,” smiles Cantrell. “So it’s not a set band. I got to make music with a bunch of people I never had before, along with friends like Duff, Tyler and Gil who I’ve worked with previously.”
Jerry’s expansive sonic palette incorporates everything from moments of moody organ and powerful pedal steel to the cathartic choruses and airtight riffs which is the hallmark of Cantrell’ssound.
Over the past year, he co-produced Brighten with Paul Fig (long-time Engineer), also taking the helm as co-producer along with film composer Tyler Bates [300, John Wick]. Reflecting a classic spirit, they welcomed a dynamic cast of supporting players, including drummers Gil Sharone and Abe Laboriel, Jr. (Paul McCartney), pedal steel master Michael Rozon, Vincent Jones on piano, Wurlitzer, and organ.
Other rock legends added to the fun of this LP, including Duff McKagan [Guns N’ Roses, Loaded] on select bass tracks, Greg Puciato [Dillinger Escape Plan] handling all of the background vocals and Joe Barresi [Tool, Queens of the Stone Age] overseeing the mixing of Brighten.
Together, they recorded eight originals and the LP closes with an approved by Elton cover of his classic “Goodbye” as the finale. “Madman Across The Water is one of my favourite records of all time,” he exclaims. Out of respect to Elton, I wouldn’t include it unless he said it was okay. He’d played piano on ‘Black Gives Way To Blue,’ which I wrote for Layne, so I reached out to Elton, he listened to it, and told me “You should absolutely use it.” I got the sign off by the man himself. I couldn’t think of a better way to close the record!”
Brighten is available to preorder HERE (includes limited edition beer coloured LP)