Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Dave Pirner's solo debut--cut in New Orleans, where he moved some years back, while his Soul Asylum band mates made do back in Minneapolis--is less an act of independence than an accident of circumstance. Pirner had plenty of material, studio time came his way, and voil. So the songs are more personal--duh. Although romantic themes are prevalent here, Pirner has always written confessions, such as the debut single, "Never Recover," which comes too late to be about Winona Ryder but might as well be. The real difference is that he doesn't feel obliged to broaden his writing and singing so as to compete with Soul Asylum's roots-conscious roar. The nuanced approach of the friends and session men who back him suits the more nuanced lyrics. Maybe MTV and NARAS considered "Runaway Train" a model of pop profundity. But those accustomed to actual introspection will find more to chew on in "Teach Me to Breathe" and "364."

Rolling Stone, Aug. 22, 2002