Pennywise Frontman Jim Lindberg Puts Out Intimate and Endearing Radio Ready Solo Album
4.6 out of 5 stars
Pennywise has been a staple of California punk rock music since as long as I can remember - which is probably like 1994 or around there. Jim Lindberg has been one of the most iconic voices of the punk rock scene for close over 20 years, and his new solo album Songs from the Elkhorn Trail is an absolutely fantastic direction for him to go.
It’s clear right from the start that this isn’t exactly a typical punk rock album. Instead, you can tell why it’s not made as a Pennywise album, because right off the bat the song “Palm of Your Hand” plays a lot more like radio-ready rock music than anything that Lindberg has put out previously, in my opinion.
That’s not a bad thing either. It just showcases the range that this guy really has. He can be one of the best punk rock singers of all time, AND he can put out more mainstream sounding music that still sounds REALLY good.
The lyrics are quite personal to Lindberg in a few instances as well such as on the song “Don’t Lay Me Down” where he said he wrote the lyrics to the song in one sitting after a wake for his dad who he says is a big inspiration for the album itself.
“You’re Not Alone” is an anthem for the bullied and the outcasts or even just anyone who suffers with depression, anxiety or social pressures. It’s probably the most radio-friendly on the album too.
“Hello Again” is another banger that will get stuck in your head for weeks as it is really built to sing along to, in my opinion. It’s a drinking song of sorrow and sadness, but at the same time acceptance of the way of life a lot of people take on for themselves by drinking their problems away.
The first being what seems like a warning or cautionary tale of mistrust and deception that could easily be written about anyone who puts their own needs in front of the good of mankind. Maybe like a former president or high profile politician?
The second being a song that really speaks to the modern city life most people in America live where Lindberg aspires to get out of the rat race and let go of all the anxiety and confusion that comes with having to deal with social pressures. The answer is to get out to the country and spend some time to reflect on life and relationships, and he ends the album with the lines, “Maybe I’ll see you once again. It’s a long lovely road.” which seems highly likely to be a message to his dad. A fitting song with a fitting end for any grown man who has ever spent time with their father on a camping trip or any rural setting.
I think this might be my favorite Lindberg-led album in a very long time. I like every Pennywise album, but this is just so different from that, it makes it hard to compare them, and this is just a great album to listen to on its own merit no matter the legacy of Lindberg.
One of the best albums of the year, for sure.