Insomnia. Moons. Oceans. Like each of Pearl Jam's nine albums, you'll easily find surfer-songwriter Eddie Vedder's favorite metaphors firmly embedded in his second solo album, "Ukulele Songs." But instead of the driving rockers and six-string ballads familiar to PJ fans' ears, the frontman's follow up to 2007's stark "Into The Wild" soundtrack instead employs this trio of images to tell a more stripped-down heartsick, then heartening rollercoaster of a story about a big love lost completely and an even bigger love won.
As the title implies, the 16 songs here -- including five covers, duets with Cat Power and Glen Hansard, and several songs Vedder first penned and performed about a decade ago -- all showcase the simplicity of his ukulele matched with his voice. Out May 31, in the afterglow of Memorial Day weekend, "Ukulele Songs'" storytelling and wistful, vintage sound is made for summer campfires on the beach.
Which of Eddie Vedder's "Ukulele" songs rock the most, so to speak? Here's our Twitter-length track-by-track review of each song.
You be the judge: What do you think of Eddie Vedder's "Ukelele Songs"? Tweet us your own review at @billboarddotcom (using hashtag #bbvedder). The best tweets will be posted on Billboard.com in the coming days.
1. "Can't Keep" - EV reverts this '02 Pearl Jam rocker to its natural state; a furiously strummed uke & his big voice, proving dark songs can come from sunny instruments.
2. "Sleeping By Myself" - The first of the album's overt songs of outright/overt heartbreak, "I should have known there was someone else..."
3. "Without You" - Eddie and his four-string are up all night again, musing on "healing over the scars that we've collected from the start" rather than giving up.
4. "More Than You Know" - A bittersweet 1929 Rose & David love song. "The little bit of love that I get may be all that you can give but I can't live without it."
5. "Goodbye" - Vedder sings with quiet devastation about losing someone after "half our lives together," but its the whisper at the end that just kills you.
6. "Broken Heart" - Ed pits his baritone against his uke's gentlest tones in a deceptively simple song of ultra-sad stoicism, "I'm alright/it's just a broken heart."
7. "Satellite" - A breathy, double-tracked paen to patience in love and all things, inspired by West Memphis 3 inmate Damien Echols' marriage.
8. "Longing To Belong" - Romantic hope begins to glimmer, with strings and falsetto, as Vedder shares, "I'm falling harder than I ever fell before."
9. "Hey Fahkah" - Just a brief, whimsical expletive-laden interlude.
10. You're True - A song after "Longing," he's head over heels. Having found 'the one' he's "at home in my own skin / I'm like an ocean whose tide's come in."
11. "Light Today" - A surfer's mantra, complete with sandy footprints and waves, with Eddie choosing hope over lost love, intoning, "I'll bleed but I won't break."
13. "Once in a While" - Eddie fully inhabits this 1937 Green & Edwards cover about being content with only memories if she'll at least think of him. So melancholy.
14. "Waving Palms" - A dulcet, brief instrumental. With uke. Of course.
15. "Tonight You Belong To Me" - EV harmonizes in his sweetest register with an equally sweet Cat Power, transporting you straight to some jazz-age Hawaiian lawn party.
16. "Dream A Little Dream" - Try on Vedder's take on this olden, familiar love tune if you think Tom Waits has cornered the market on gravel-throated Depression-era sounds.