Iconic singer, songwriter, guitarist, and ALICE IN CHAINS co-founder Jerry Cantrell returns with the first single, "Atone", from his new solo album, "Brighten". Watch the official music video for the track below.
Right from the start, the album opener's riff rolls like a runaway freight train underscored by cinematic twang. As the momentum builds, he intones the hummable hook before a psychedelic break, and a hard-hitting hook evocative of the album's incendiary spirit.
The video is a perfect accompaniment to the song as it is a compilation of black-and-white footage of Jerry playing the song in outdoor locations such as Joshua Tree, the Salton Sea, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. It was creatively directed as a group effort by Jerry; photographer/musician Jim Louvau; singer/guitarist Greg Puciato; visual artist Jesse Draxler; and photographer Tony Aguilera.
Talking about "Atone", Jerry says: "As a fan of Ennio Morricone scores and Sergio Leone movies, it's got a bit of that outlaw vibe, with a cool psycho hillbilly stomp. It's been kicking around in my head for like 20-plus years, haunting me. Sometimes it takes a while for a good idea to find its best form. Such was the case with 'Atone'."
The veteran rock artist delivers by offering up another dimension of his recognizable guitar sounds while at the same time featuring his signature vocals.
"I've been in the band for almost 34 years now," says Jerry. "It's always my first and foremost commitment, but it's nice to explore different things and add another chapter to a growing body of work. After the last AIC tour wrapped, I geared my mind towards the possibility of making another record of my own."
Over the past year, Jerry co-produced "Brighten" with film composer Tyler Bates ("300", "John Wick") and long-time engineer Paul Fig. Reflecting a classic spirit, they welcomed a dynamic cast of supporting players, including drummers Gil Sharone and Abe Laboriel, Jr. (Paul McCartney), pedal steel master Michael Rozon, Vincent Jones on piano, Wurlitzer, and organ. Other rock legends added to the fun of this LP, including Duff McKagan (GUNS N' ROSES) on select bass tracks, Greg Puciato (THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN) handling all of the background vocals and Joe Barresi (TOOL, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE) overseeing the mixing of "Brighten". Together, they recorded eight originals and the LP closes with an approved-by-Elton John cover of his classic "Goodbye" as the finale.
"'Madman Across The Water' is one of my favorite records of all time," Jerry exclaims. "Out of respect to Elton, I wouldn't include it unless he said it was okay. He'd played piano on 'Black Gives Way To Blue', which I wrote for [late ALICE IN CHAINS singer] Layne [Staley], so I reached out to Elton, he listened to it, and told me 'You should absolutely use it.' I got the signoff by the man himself. I couldn't think of a better way to close the record!"
Cantrell played a pair of sold-out solo shows in Los Angeles joined by an eclectic group of musicians and friends, several of whom appear on "Brighten".
"It was fun to play tunes I hadn't performed in years from 'Boggy Depot' and 'Degradation Trip'," Jerry continues. "Tyler Bates not only introduced me to a lot of cool players, he also helped me put the band together for the shows, and performed with me."
"Brighten" spawned from those gigs.
"It was like an old-school '70s record where a multitude of musicians played," smiles Cantrell. "So it's not a set band. I got to make music with a bunch of people I never had before, along with friends like Duff, Tyler and Gil who I've worked with previously."
Jerry's expansive sonic palette incorporates everything from moments of moody organ and powerful pedal steel to the cathartic choruses and airtight riffs which is the hallmark of Cantrell's sound.
To commemorate its release, "Atone" will be available in multiple configurations including a 12-inch vinyl single with a B-side that includes an exclusive instrumental version (with glow in the dark packaging), 180-gram heavyweight vinyl and a blood red colour vinyl exclusive to the Jerry Cantrell webstore. Each "Atone" vinyl single purchase includes a red flexi disc, red pick set, and an instant download of the song.
"Brighten" is available for pre-order everywhere now and will be offered in an exclusive bone with gold splatter color 180-gram vinyl via Jerry's webstore. Limited signed CDs will also be available in the webstore for pre-order.
"Brighten" track listing:
03. Prism of Doubt
04. Black Hearts and Evil Done
05. Siren Song
06. Had To Know
07. Nobody Breaks You
09. Goodbye (Elton John cover)
The cast of players on "Brighten"
* Jerry Cantrell - Guitar, bass, vocals, keys
* Greg Puciato - Background vocals
* Duff McKagan - Bass
* Gil Sharone - Drums
* Abe Laboriel Jr. - Drums
* Tyler Bates - Strings, percussion, guitar
* Vincent Jones - Piano, keys, & strings
* Jordan Lewis - Piano
* Michael Rozon - Pedal steel
* Lola Bates - Background vocals
* Matias Ambrogi-Torres - Strings
Jerry's upcoming effort will mark his first full-length release since "Degradation Trip", the epic solo album he made in 2002 with future METALLICA bassist Robert Trujillo and FAITH NO MORE drummer Mike Bordin.
Cantrell announced the new LP's completion in an Instagram post in March.
Jerry's career outside of ALICE IN CHAINS has consisted of two solo albums and contributions to major film soundtracks. Cantrell's first solo album, "Boggy Depot", was released in 1998, followed by his second album, the aforementioned "Degradation Trip". In addition to his solo artist work, Jerry has released music on soundtracks for several films, including "Spider-Man", "The Cable Guy", "John Wick 2", "Last Action Hero" and "The Punisher".
Back in 2018, Cantrell told Billboard that he wasn't in good headspace when he made "Degradation Trip". "I was just really fucked up back then, to be honest with you, and you can totally hear it on that record," he said. "It was done right before I got sober, and it was also done right when I was dealing with the death of my band, and then the unhappy coincidence of Layne [Staley, ALICE IN CHAINS frontman] passing away right after I released that record. So it was not a good time in my life, and it totally comes across on that record."
Cantrell added: "It's a record I don't listen to a lot anymore because of all those things I mentioned," revealing that he got sober a year after it was recorded. He continued: "But it's a record that's important to me, and I'll see Robert and Mike every once in a while and they're like, 'We should do some fucking shows, man. Some 'Degradation Trip' shows.' [Laughs] I tell 'em we'll do it someday."
ALICE IN CHAINS regrouped in 2006 with William DuVall joining the band, and released its third LP with DuVall in the lineup, "Rainier Fog", in August 2018.