Vedder and company Jam on

By Jaclyn Freese
November 7, 2002

Paul Williams

Even though Pearl Jam’s style of music has changed drastically from when their first album Ten came out, Eddie Vedder’s profound lyrics and heartfelt delivery of them has not changed. His lyrics make Riot Act the thoughtful piece of music that it is.

Clearly the standout songs on Riot Act are the songs where Vedder and his counterparts Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, Matt Cameron and Jeff Ament slow down the tempo. In “All or None,” Vedder’s deep and gritty voice sings of sorrowful love over the melodic acoustic guitar and beautiful piano. “I Am Mine” has Vedder’s most deep and philosophical lyrics to date. It is very evident that Vedder takes his idols Neil Young and Pete Townsend to heart with lyrics like “I know I was born/And I know I will die/the in-between is mine.”

When Vedder and company speed up the beats, their delivery is not as strong. In “Get Right,” the background guitar and drums are very punkish yet Vedder’s voice is too rich for a punk song. In what seems like an ode to Lou Reeds “Walk on the Wild Side,” the song “Bushleaguer” has Vedder talking over a slow guitar, but his voice and the sluggish rhythm do not come together.

However, when Vedder’s voice and the bands music come together, the sound is stellar. In “1/2 Full,” Gossard and McCready deliver 70s psychedelic guitar riffs over Vedder’s quivering voice and reflective lyrics. “Love Boat Captain” has a slow, clean sound with lyrics like “First come love/Then comes pain/Let the games begin.”

While “Riot Act” is not the masterpiece that Ten was, it is the best and most heartfelt album out of Pearl Jam’s post-grunge era.

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Jaclyn Freese

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