Out Now: Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains) Casts Light to the Darkness on New Album ‘Brighten,’ His First Since 2002

Rock Cellar Magazine StaffCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

It’s been nearly 20 years since Jerry Cantrell, guitarist/songwriter/vocalist of Alice in Chains, released a solo record — but today, Oct. 29, he returned with Brighten, which is effectively the follow-up to 2002’s Degradation Trip.

Brighten finds Cantrell at his most accomplished as a songwriter, and finds him accompanied throughout the record by a number of special guest musician pals, among them Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses, Greg Puciato (vocals/guitar), Tyler Bates (bass), Abe Laboriel Jr. (drums), Gil Sharone (drums), Vincent Jones (piano) and more.

Click here to pick up Brighten on CD from our Rock Cellar Store
Click here to pick up Brighten on LP from our Rock Cellar Store

The grungy, bluesy twang of album opener “Atone” sets the mood, Cantrell’s familiar vocals and dissonant, down-tuned guitar licks providing a steady presence:

Here’s how Cantrell characterized Brighten in a chat with Billboard linked to the release:

“It’s referencing different shades and putting layers into things, so it’s not just all f–king monochrome like, ‘Hey, this is a happy song,’ or ‘Hey, this is a depressing song.’ It’s a mix of all sorts of things. It’s a body of work, and it definitely has an overall feel of energy and a little more light — but there’s also plenty of dark in there, too. Both are interlocked and important, and it just depends on what ratio you have in the ingredients in the mixing bowl.”

Perhaps unexpectedly, Brighten concludes with a cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye,” which Cantrell spoke about in a statement. He sounded especially excited to receive Elton’s blessing to use the cover in such a fashion:

“Madman Across The Water is one of my favorite records of all time. 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 Layne, 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!”

The music video for the album’s title track blends narrative and performance footage of Cantrell and his assorted band mates, with some nice visual touches of psychedelic camera filters and a bunch of candles:

Jerry Cantrell didn’t “need” to make a new solo album, given the scope and depth of his back catalog — but he did, and Brighten is another memorable addition to his repertoire, as well as one of the stronger alt/rock releases of recent memory.

The track listing:

1. Atone
2. Brighten
3. Prism of Doubt
4. Black Hearts and Evil Done
5. Siren Song
6. Had To Know
7. Nobody Breaks You
8. Dismembered
9. Goodbye

Stream it below.

Catch Jerry Cantrell on the road in early 2022 supporting this record:

Thu-Mar-24 St. Paul Palace Theatre
Sat-Mar-26 Chicago The Vic Theatre
Mon-Mar-28 Detroit St. Andrews Hall
Tue-Mar-29 Toronto History
Thu-Mar-31 Pittsburgh Roxian Theatre
Sat-Apr-02 Atlantic City Music Box @ Borgata
Sun-Apr-03 Philadelphia Theatre of Living Arts
Tue-Apr-05 New York Irving Plaza
Wed-Apr-06 Boston Big Night Live
Fri-Apr-08 Baltimore Rams Head Live
Sat-Apr-09 Raleigh The Ritz
Sun-Apr-10 Charlotte Fillmore
Tue-Apr-12 Orlando House of Blues
Wed-Apr-13 St. Petersburg Jannus Live
Fri-Apr-15 Atlanta Tabernacle
Sun-Apr-17 Nashville Ryman Auditorium
Tue-Apr-19 New Orleans Fillmore
Thu-Apr-21 Dallas House of Blues
Fri-Apr-22 San Antonio Aztec Theatre
Sat-Apr-23 Houston House of Blues
Mon-Apr-25 Oklahoma City Diamond Ballroom
Wed-Apr-27 Denver The Summit
Thu-Apr-28 Salt Lake City The Depot
Sun-May-01 Portland Roseland Theater
Mon-May-02 Seattle Moore Theatre
Wed-May-04 Sacramento Ace of Spades
Thu-May-05 Los Angeles Belasco Theatre
Sat-May-07 Las Vegas House of Blues
Sun-May-08 San Diego House of Blues

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