Sound — 9
If there is quality that defines Dave Grohl, it's consistency. The man who has been seemingly unstoppable since his days in Nirvana has continued to churn out solid rock songs with the Foo Fighters, and his band's latest effort Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace will not be alienating any fans -- even when it does get a tad experimental. Apparently the birth of Grohl's baby made the frontman want to jump back in the studio sooner than usual for mortality reasons, but thankfully the record does not seem like a rushed effort by any means. In fact, the band has shown a new side of itself, bringing out some of their older rock influences along the way.
The Foo Fighters have become just as known for their unplugged sessions as their rock output, and that side to the quartet is highlighted big time on the new album. But what's refreshing is that the band doesn't just go for the usual all-acoustic approach. Piano plays a huge part in the track Home (a song that has a similar feel to The Eagles' low-key The Last Resort), while Come Alive features more of a jazz approach to the guitar sound. Apparently Steely Dan has been an influence to Grohl, and Come Alive actually feels very much like a nod to the Donald Fagen-Walter Becker duo. It's unexpected to hear Grohl phrase his vocals like Fagen, but the man does it beautifully on Come Alive.
The Pretender is the first single off the band's 6th record is by far one of the best, with a smooth transition from a beautiful acoustic introduction intro the band's usual rock sound. Because the song is a bit more subdued in the first few moments, Grohl's vocals pop to the forefront. He sounds better than ever, and that's just a taste of the impressive musicianship that takes place on Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. The argument could be made that The Pretender has a similar feel to All My Life during the breakdown, but it sounds so good that it's unlikely that they're will be an uprising over it.
Bluegrass even makes an appearance in The Ballad Of The Beaconsfield Miners, which Grohl wrote about the Australian mining tragedy that occurred in 2006. Brant Webb, one of the mine survivors, asked for an iPod full of Foo Fighters' tracks while he waited to be rescued, and an obviously touched Grohl wrote The Ballad Of The Beaconsfield Miners in response. While the song not only proves that Grohl is perhaps one of the coolest, nicest guys in rock, it is musically one of the most impressive tracks. All-instrumental and finger-picked on acoustic, the breathtaking song also features guest performer Kaki King.
Lyrics — 9
While the music has veered in a slightly different direction, the lyrics on Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace still have that familiar Foo Fighters' flavor. The rock songs are often full with fun or cynical plays on words or heavily repeated section at the end to build up intensity, while the slower numbers don't cease to tug at the heart strings. It's that mixture that keeps things interesting throughout the latest album, even if it's something that we're all familiar with at this point. There's just something about the sarcastic line like Did you ever think of me? You're so considerate that makes for an enjoyable listen.
Overall Impression — 9
While the Foo Fighters don't go leaps and bounds out of their comfort zone on Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, the material they have come up with has enough fresh moments to confirm that band is growing. The fact that Grohl went all-out and put a bluegrass song on the record earns his points in itself. A song like The Ballad Of The Beaconsfield Miners doesn't necessarily scream single, but Grohl wasn't afraid to let the emotional history behind the song lead the way.
There are quite a few slower tracks on the new album, but it's the ones that focus on Grohl's voice and just an acoustic that are the most memorable. There is something extremely raw and emotional in those moments that don't need any other instrumentation to get the point across. But to the millions of people who bought the Foo Fighters' unplugged Skin And Bones CD, that's probably already a known fact.