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Eddie Vedder Rocks the Uke-Box


Pearl Jam’s baritone bard shows less is more on new solo CD; My Morning Jacket’s new wake-up call is a trippy triple espresso.

If you’re looking for a Summer album that’s perfect background music for night drives and misty morning coffee runs by the beach or mountain top, Eddie Vedder’s new “Ukulele Songs” is your cup of java. The sixteen songs are pure Vedder, but brought down a notch, exhibiting none of the bombast the Broody One can dabble in. Musings, reflections, plunk-a-plunkings, even rock-outs (“Hey Fahkah”) are all here, including a sublime duet with Cat Power on “Dream a Little Dream.” We pretty much expect Jack White to play a dobro or a guit-steel, it’s no surprise but Vedder on the uke is fascinating, strangely normal. You forget he’s playing an Olde Timey four-string lute. The album brings dignity to the oft-beleaguered instrument, and to Vedder. The scruffy dude gets better with age.

If you want your music fix more trippy and ambient with some big churning climaxes, check out My Morning Jacket’s great new “Circuital,” the band’s fifth studio release. The album is already a classic. Yes, we said “ambient.” It’s awesome, and you don’t have to skip around because of that one discordant song every album seems to possess as a big middle finger to the “studio chiefs, man.”

Both albums have staying power, and their oddly catchy songs will resonate in your head long after you’ve hit the waves or fly-fishing stream.