album reviews

Craig Wedren
Team Love (2005)

The shift from Craig Wedren's punk band Shudder to Think to his new solo work seems massive, as he has replaced his former group's aggression with a mellower indie-pop sound. Even Wedren's choice of labels is telling: While Shudder to Think found its home on Dischord (led by Fugazi's Ian MacKaye), his solo debut, "Lapland," was released on Team Love, the label run by Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst.

Wedren's quieter solo sound may seem like a radical transformation, but his early supporters will see the logical progression from his film work. In addition to Shudder to Think's several soundtrack albums (1998's "First Love, Last Rites" and "High Art"), Wedren has spent the past several years penning songs for such films as "School of Rock" and "Laurel Canyon." His film scoring prowess is evident in the gentleness of "Lapland," whose songs could support any tender on-screen moment.

Wedren's voice supports his sensitive side: His airy tenor shifts seamlessly in and out of falsetto, augmenting the passion behind "One Man's Heart" and the catchy "Do You Harm." While his stripped-down sound may lose some of Shudder to Think's instrumental flare, the clamoring "Love Among Ruins" hints at his former band's energy, while the lush orchestration of "Fifteen Minutes Late" captures the song's melancholy better than a single guitar ever could. "Lapland" might be Wedren's first official solo release, but the album's expressive songwriting will be no surprise to anyone familiar with his earlier work.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 13 January 2006, Page WE06
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