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Jerry Cantrell Breaks Down His New Album Brighten Track by Track: Exclusive

The legendary singer-guitarist describes each song on the LP, which is now available to stream

jerry cantrell brighten track by track interview 2021
Jerry Cantrell (photo by Jonathan Weiner)
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    After a nearly 20-year gap between albums, Jerry Cantrell has released his third solo effort, Brighten.

    The Alice in Chains singer-guitarist was surrounded by friends and musical co-conspirators for the loose and no-pressure recording sessions. As Cantrell told us in our extensive interview, he set out to make a record without any “expectation” except “making some music.”

    He describes the resulting nine-song LP as “a journey up through darkness to light,” hence the summery album title. Fans of Alice In Chains’ more acoustic-based material should find a lot to love with the new collection.

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    Among the players supporting Cantrell on the record include film composer Tyler Bates, Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan, former Dillinger Escape Plan singer Greg Puciato, keyboardist Vincent Jones, pedal steel player Michael Rozon, drummers Gil Sharone and Abe Laboriel Jr., and more. It was produced by Cantrell and Bates, with mixed and engineering by Joe Barresi and Paul Figueroa, respecively.

    As an extension of our interview with Jerry Cantrell, the legendary musician graciously dove into each song off the new album, offering Consequence an exclusive track by track breakdown. Stream the album in full below as you read Cantrell’s description of each song. You can purchase Brighten via Cantrell’s online store or digitally via Amazon.

    Cantrell is set to support Brighten with a North American tour in 2022, with tickets available here.

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    “Atone”

    That’s Tyler Bates on the chains in a bucket [at the beginning]. Awesome call on that. He had ’em in the studio that day when we were messing around with that song. And he was like, “I’m feeling this has an Aerosmith ‘Back in the Saddle’ kind of vibe” — I think they used cardboard or some chains or something. So Tyler’s like, “Check this out,” and he whips out a bucket with these chains and starts dropping them on the beat. And it was awesome; it was totally perfect. Great call.

    It’s got an outlaw vibe to it. It evokes images to me — I didn’t write it to be an exact interpretation of this — but it brings up images of The Man with No Name [Clint Eastwood’s character in the Dollars trilogy]. Out in the wilderness kind of vibe; pack of horses in chase; guns firing. It’s got that attitude to it.

    “Brighten”

    “Brighten” is a really strong song. It’s just pure rock ‘n’ roll. Vincent Jones on keys added a really great track to that and brought it to a new level. He came in late in the project, but he was a really consequential player and addition to this album. Vincent added a lot to about four or five tracks and killed it on that song. It’s just a really good rocker. I’m doing a video for it … so I’ve been running reps, where I’ve been playing along to the song and getting my faux rock moves together. And I can picture it. I can picture standing on a stage and playing it for people and it feels good. It’s a big rock song.

    “Prism of Doubt”

    I think there’s a summer feel and vibe to this record. And Tyler said that to me too, early on. I was trying to think of what to call it, and that’s why Brighten seemed to make sense. It’s a journey up through darkness to light. That’s similar to my method of writing anything that I’ve done before. It’s just some days are cloudier than others. This record has a little bit more sunshine breaking through the clouds… without being too light. And it’s got plenty of meat to it. “Prism of Doubt,” to me — I feel like the sun is out, I’m driving in my convertible, cruising along the beach. It’s just a good-time song. It makes me exhale, like “Ahhh.” That’s nice [laughs].

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