The first 7 Worlds Collide album (and DVD) chronicled an all-star gathering of international musicians who assembled quickly to play a few dates in Neil Finn’s stomping grounds; the album was culled from the live performances, and the superstar band (which included the likes of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder) disbanded, after its shows raised money for charity. The second release under the 7 Worlds Collide banner retains the all-star band part of the formula, but the resulting double album is a creature of the studio, often under the watchful production eye of Neil Finn and/or the talent to which any given track is credited. There a few old faces and a few new ones as well: many of the guest musicians are drawn from a somewhat more local talent pool, with a number of names who may be well known in New Zealand but perhaps not so much outside of the south Pacific.
Virtually the entire Finn family is present, naturally; Neil Finn duets with his wife Sharon on “Little By Little”, a song about the rapid approach of an empty nest at home, and he also duets with Liam Finn, his son who’s carving out a respectable career as a solo artist, on “Learn To Crawl”. Liam also gets a solo turn in the twisty waltz “Red Wine Bottle”, while his younger brother Elroy (who has already been playing live with Crowded House) gets the studio to himself for “The Cobbler”, and while he hasn’t quite carved out the unique sound that Liam has, Elroy still bears watching – as with his older brother, his voice gives away his lineage. Tim Finn also turns in a pleasant solo song, “Riding The Wave.” Fans of the Finn family tree certainly won’t be disappointed by this collection.
Neil’s signature production style permeates nearly every other track on the album, too. It could be argued that The Sun Came Out is perhaps a little less varied in style than the previous 7 Worlds Collide project; with the whole thing in the studio under Finn’s aegis, it’s easy to tell who was at the wheel. This doesn’t detract from the fact that there are some fantastic songs here: Don McGlashan’s “Make Your Own Mind Up” and the KT Tunstall/Bic Runga duet “Black Silk Ribbon” are two of the best songs I’ve heard out of anyone, anywhere, all year long. Liam Finn’s “Red Wine Bottle” is a low-key number that sticks in your head, while the cheery lead track, Johnny Marr and Neil Finn’s “Too Blue”, is enough to brighten anyone’s mood. I also have to single out Jeff Tweedy’s “You Never Know” for special praise: the tune, the performance and the production almost achingly remind me of early ’70s George Harrison, and this is not a bad thing. At all.
If I have a single complaint with The Sun Came Out, it’s that the first disc is a pure pop adrenaline rush, while the second seems to slow down. It really doesn’t, but somehow the second CD lacks the “oomph” packed by the first disc (which literally doesn’t let up for its entire running time). And disc two is no slouch by any means – we get a new Neil Finn solo number (“All Comedians Suffer”), Tim’s and Elroy’s songs, KT Tunstall’s “Hazel Black”, and another Don McGlashan number, “Long Time Gone”. There’s no letdown in quality but somehow there’s a slight darkening of mood.
But that’s a very minor quibble indeed; with the possible exception of Battlestar Galactica Season 4 (and let’s face it, in most cases these two projects are aimed at wildly different audiences), there’s not another two-disc set that’s going to give you this much enjoyment for the price – and once again, Finn & company are sharing the proceeds with charity, so there’s more feel-good to some of these feel-good songs than you might expect. Very, very highly recommended. (Now get back in the studio with Crowded House, Neil!)
- Too Blue – Johnny Marr with Neil Finn (4:01)
- You Never Know – Jeff Tweedy (4:18)
- Little By Little – Sharon Finn and Neil Finn (3:18)
- Learn To Crawl – Neil Finn & Liam Finn (4:59)
- Black Silk Ribbon – KT Tunstall & Bic Runga (3:48)
- Girl Make Your Own Mind Up – Don McGlashan (5:29)
- Run In The Dust – Johnny Marr (4:23)
- Red Wine Bottle – Liam Finn (4:26)
- The Ties That Bind Us – Phil Selway (3:22)
- Reptile – Lisa Germano (3:53)
- Bodhisattva Blues – Ed O’ Brien & Neil Finn (3:55)
- What Could Have Been – Jeff Tweedy (3:41)
- All Comedians Suffer – Neil Finn (4:28)
- Duxton Blues – Glenn Richards (3:35)
- Hazel Black – KT Tunstall (3:46)
- Riding The Wave – Tim Finn (3:32)
- The Witching Hour – Phil Selway (3:03)
- Over & Done – John Stirratt (3:41)
- A Change Of Heart – Bic Runga (3:14)
- Don’t Forget Me – Pat Sansone (3:38)
- Long Time Gone – Don McGlashan (4:02)
- The Cobbler – Elroy Finn (4:33)
- 3 Worlds Collide (3:06)
- The Water – Sebastian Steinberg (4:02)
Released by: Sony
Release date: 2009
Disc one total running time: 49:33
Disc two total running time: 44:40