For a band eight albums deep in their career it might seem like a long time coming for Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder's solo record, but the pseudo-soundtrack cover provided by Sean Penn's film Into The Wild seems like a good place to start.
While there is occasional of evidence of it being a soundtrack (it seems a bit tied to a narrative in places and the songs barely stretch beyond three minutes) it is a far cry from the typical soundtrack - comprising of 60 second incidental atmospherics, a constant recycling of themes and one or two centre-pieces.
Sleater Kinney's Corin Tucker provides back up on the Indio cover Hard Sun which is the obvious single, but actually not one of the better songs on the record. It also serves to provide a dangerous warning that Pearl Jam have begun to occasionally sound like the band the haters think they are. Luckily, it stays on the Bruce Springsteen side of Bon Jovi and it is surrounded by far more individual works, such as Rise or the album highlight Long Nights. Instrumental The Wolf makes great use of a Neil Young style pipe organ, but unfortunately does not live up to the great opening. Things tail off slightly here and there, but Society (penned by Sean Penn's other musical penpal Jerry Hannan) is a great later track and Eddie's ukulele is back in action for Guaranteed.
While it my be a couple of songs short of a truly bonafide solo album, it is a pretty solid record - and will no doubt work well with Sean Penn's apparently excellent film. It's low key, but well in-tune with the movie's themes of nature and wilderness, providing a few glimpses of Eddie Vedder's intimate solo style at it's best.