JERRY CANTRELL — Boggy Depot (review)

JERRY CANTRELL — Boggy Depot album cover Album · 1998 · Heavy Alternative Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
When Alice in Chains ran into problems with Layne Staley's drug struggles, Jerry Cantrell lost the primary outlet for the songs that still kept bubbling in his mind. So the natural step was of course to record a solo album, especially since his voice had been becoming a bigger and bigger factor in the AiC sound with every passing album. On this album he's joined by the two functioning AiC bandmembers as well as some other all star musicians like Les Claypool from Primus and Rex Brown from Pantera and a couple of guys from Fishbone.

The album begins with one of Cantrell's finest ever riffs, which along with the slightly twisted drum beat and the main man's charismatic rock voice make Dickeye a top class heavy rock track, a great kick off to the album dispelling some doubts that Cantrell needs strong personalities around him to make effective music. Cut You In is just as memorable with it's weird country feel and horn flavored chorus, but not nearly as enjoyable, but My Song is another brilliant track - a calm ballad-type song with great slightly distorted guitar work and one of my favourite Cantrell vocal performances. The louder chorus doesn't quite live up to the subdued verses, but doesn't bring the track down too much.

Cantrell's piano and Fishbone's Norwood Fisher's fretless bass carry Settling Down, another fine ballady piece with a lot stronger chorus than the preceding track. Nice acoustic guitar spices here and an atmospheric but slightly indecisive sounding guitar solo. Breaks My Back uses a processed vocal track and a sitar-like guitar to create and ominous feel that's quite unlike anything we've heard from Cantrell before. One could expect a big storm at the end of the track but instead it fades out to the desert sand where it came from. Works as well. Jesus Hands is a return to a familiar territory of heavy riffs and edgy rhythms, and Devil By His Side is perhaps the most AiC track of these all despite the relative lightness of its rocking. The rest of the songs are somewhere within the boundaries set by the first half of the album, the highlight being Between, a southern rock vibed feel good road trip track. Something he couldn't have pulled off with Alice, but fits nicely on a solo album.

Boggy Depot is an album full of good but ultimately quite unmemorable material with a couple of gems thrown in - not really up to par with Cantrell's former work with Alice in Chains but kept the man alive and strong.
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