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One All- 7 Worlds Collide: Live at the St. James
Artist: Neil Finn
Label: Nettwerk America
Length: 12 Tracks/ 49:00- 17 Tracks/ 74:36

Best known for his work in Crowded House, but also a member of the somewhat obscure yet celebrated non-commercial darlings Split Enz, Neil Finn continues to record under his own pretenses, continually evolving and carving out his own niche. The New Zealand born singer/songwriter first went solo for 1998’s “Try Whistling This,” not really basking in the shadow of either group, a frame of mind he sticks with on the American release of _One All_. The twelve song acoustically driven record (released with different artwork, sequencing, and two different tracks overseas) instead teamed Finn up with several special guests, including Midnight Oil’s Jim Moginie, stateside session drummer J.J. Johnson, and former members of Prince’s Revolution Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman. 

Finn’s lush guitar strums, distinctive vocals, and co-writing with Melvoin are the axis on which _One All_ revolves around, with cuts like “The Climber,” “Hole in the Ice,” and “Secret God” serving as striking standouts. Finn and company tactfully blend sweeping acoustics and a dreamy theme on “Lullaby Requiem,” turn romantic on the tender “Wherever You Are,” and demonstrate flavorful pop sensibilities on “Rest of the Day Off.” The disc’s most intriguing selection is clearly “Anytime,” during which Finn analyzes his own mortality. “There’s nothing safe about this life,” he sings. “I could go anytime.” Although not as thematically deep, the finale “Into the Sunset” is also full of vibrant imagery and sparkling metaphors. “Watch how she fades into the sunset/ A vision spectacular in grace/ Hunger for the world travel/ Stimulating discussion lift me/ Faster into the weakness/ Off the wall into blackness.” It’s that serene vision (during which Sheryl Crow guests on accordion) that Finn’s various visions come full circle, confirming his ever-expanding lyrical dichotomy and progressive approach to artistry.

In addition to One All, recently released material from the Finn camp includes 7 Worlds Collide: Live at the St. James. Like his latest studio project, this concert recording also features a cavalcade of stars including Johnny Marr (The Smiths, Electronic), Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Ed O’Brien (Radiohead), and brother Tim Finn. Set in a mostly unplugged format similar to the classic MTV program of the same moniker, Finn rotates between his solo material and cuts penned by the guests (a Crowded House/Split Enz live collection this is not). 

Finn shines on his opening rendition of “Anytime” and triumphantly reunites with his brother Tim for “Angels Heap,” “Edible Flowers,” Weather With You,” and “Paradise (Wherever You Are)” but graciously gives his friends a liberal amount of time in the spotlight. O’Brien serves as the concert’s primary electric guitarist, Vedder occasionally steps up to the microphone (“Parting Ways,” “Take a Walk” and “I See Red”) and Marr also gives lead vocals a try on “Down on the Corner.” He remains on stage to relive O’Brien of electric guitar duties for the subsequent “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” (which he penned with Morrissey) as Neil gracefully returns to the vocals. Such stylish poise is duplicated as the disc fades to a hushed conclusion with a sobering rendition of “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” simply featuring Finn on vocals and Paul Jeffery on organ. It wraps up the 17-track collection with ease and elegance, enticing fans to invest in the 26-track accompanying DVD collection.       

Andy Argyrakis 10/12/2002

One All    

7 Worlds Collide: Live at the St. James 

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