Soul Asylum: Dave Pirner (vocals, guitar, trumpet, organ); Dan Murphy (guitar, background vocals); Karl Mueller (bass); Sterling Campbell (drums, percussion, background vocals).
Additional personnel: Dave Schramm (guitar, lap steel guitar); Eric Pierson (guitar); Jane Scarpantoni (cello); Joey Huffman (piano, organ, Mellotron); Tim Ray (piano, Wurlitzer piano); Trini Alvarado, John Devries (background vocals).
Recorded at Ocean Way Studios and A&M Studios, Hollywood, California;
Madhatter Studios, Silverlake, California; Sony Studios and Soundtrack Studios, New York, New York.
Personnel: Dave Pirner (vocals, guitar, trumpet, organ); Dan Murphy (vocals, guitar); Dave Schramm (guitar, lap steel guitar); Eric Pierson (guitar); Jane Scarpantoni (cello); Joey Huffman (piano, organ, Mellotron); Tim Ray (piano, Wurlitzer organ); Sterling Campbell (drums, percussion, background vocals); Trini Alvarado, John DeVries (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Andy Wallace.
Recording information: A&M Studios, Hollywood, CA; Mad Hatter Studios, Silverlake, CA; Ocean Way Studios, Hollywood, CA; Sony Studios, New Y.
Photographers: Bruce Davidson ; Jason Stang; Danny Clinch.
The guys in Soul Asylum are the everymen of flannel-shirt twang, jangle and crunch. They're a little bit country-rock and a little bit heavy-metal roll, a little bit Springsteen factory and a little bit Westerberg High, a little bit barking dog and a little bit hurt puppy. They started out as near-hardcore Minneapolis punksters, and, following the typical route of Midwestern flannel, will probably end up as a rockin' country band. But on LET YOUR DIM LIGHT SHINE, Soul Asylum are at their own dead center, where they're capable of making everything sound like a classic pop song, and making any classic pop song sound like it was born in a flannel shirt. That is, they sound pretty much like they did on GRAVE DANCERS UNION, the 1992 album that served as their commercial breakthrough.
Echoes of fellow Minnesota rockers of all stripes ring throughout LET YOUR DIM LIGHT SHINE. "Bittersweetheart" opens with the big guitar of mid-'80s Replacements, while "Crawl" starts out sounding like a burnt-out downer from the 'Mats' later years. But like all the songs on LET YOUR DIM LIGHT SHINE, they invariably reach for their pop centers. "Bittersweetheart," therefore, breaks into a candy-coated chorus, while "Crawl" opts to speed up and go metallic. "To My Own Devices" and "Promises Broken" are brooding, country-influenced acoustic tunes meant for singing in harmony, around a fireplace, while drinking your sorrows away--in other words, Jayhawks songs.
Soul Asylum manage to knit a singular pop-rock sound out of all that yarn--a warm and sad guitar texture that is, despite its roots, specifically Soul Asylum's. The opening track, "Misery," is a satiric attack on an industry that makes fortunes off other people's misfortunes: "They say misery loves company/We could start a company and make misery/Frustrated Incorporated." But it's also a de facto tribute to what Soul Asylum do best: turning the indie-rock angst of the heartland into pop-rock songs for everybody.
Rolling Stone (6/15/95, pp.79-80) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...a satisfying pop album because it's an unapologetic one....it would hardly be surprising if the band followed its commercial breakthrough with a...left-of-center effort. Instead, [Soul Asylum]...wears mainstream acceptance as comfortably as flannel shirts..."
Spin (7/95, p.71) - 7 - Flawed Yet Worthy - "...on its own terms--a pop-rock record aimed at 14-year-old girls rather than a pointed weapon in the elusive battle for hipness--it has retained much of the band's goofy charm..."
Q (7/95, p.124) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...an instantly accessible 14-song tour of what's right with American music right now....This one will run and run and run."