Pearl Jam, "Just Breathe"

78 Billboard Rating

"Just Breathe," the second single from Pearl Jam's "Backspacer," finds Eddie Vedder at a crossroads between weathered rock stalwart and lovelorn troubadour. The song strays from the well-worn guitar riffs and wild growls of previous single "The Fixer" and moves even further away from the band's grunge roots. Recalling Kansas' "Dust in the Wind" and echoing Vedder's work on the soundtrack to "Into the Wild," the introduction is standard--an acoustic guitar, played softly and faded in--for a band testing out more emotional waters. The chorus, meanwhile, finds Vedder pining for a lost love over orchestral strings. "Did I say that I want you?/Did I say that I need you?/Oh, if I didn't, I'm a fool," he sings. While "Just Breathe" isn't quite like anything Pearl Jam has released before--it's as close to a love song as Vedder has ever written--its steady chart climb suggests that fans like seeing the frontman's heart on his sleeve.

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