Westerberg To Release (Relatively) Quiet Album

Suicaine Gratifaction started as ballads album; ended up with some rockers, too.

Eight years after the demise of the Replacements, Paul Westerberg was ready, he said,

to make a record with no traces of his former outfit's loud, raucous and sometimes sloppy

sound.

He almost succeeds on Suicaine Gratifaction. Westerberg's third solo album, due

Feb. 23, features some brooding piano ballads, including "Self-Defense" and "Sunrise

Always Listens," and plenty of other acoustic touches.

"I would have preferred it would have been a darker, 'Self-Defense'-style record all the

way through," Westerberg, 39, said Wednesday. "Only, toward of the end of the sessions,

they started to think, 'Maybe we need more upbeat material,' and Don [Was, the album's

producer] was in agreement. So invariably you have songs with drums. But I was up for

making a very quiet solo record."

Westerberg gained acclaim as the singer/songwriter in the Replacements, the influential

Minneapolis band whose eight LPs featured songs as chaotic as "Mr. Whirly" and

heartrending as "Unsatisfied" and "Answering Machine"

(RealAudio excerpt).

The two albums he's released since the band's 1991 breakup -- 14 Songs (1993)

and Eventually (1996) -- were softer, less frantic outings that put the focus more

squarely on Westerberg's singing and songwriting; they included such tunes as

href="http://media.addict.com/atn-bin/get-music/Westerberg,_Paul/mono-excerpt-

Love_Untold-28.ram">"Love Untold" (RealAudio excerpt) and

href="http://media.addict.com/atn-bin/get-music/Westerberg,_Paul/mono-excerpt-

Once_Around_The_Weekend-28.ram">"Once Around the Weekend"

(RealAudio excerpt).

Suicaine Gratifaction goes even further, favoring quiet, acoustic instrumentation

on such songs as "It's a Wonderful Lie" and "Born for Me," a duet with singer/songwriter

Shawn Colvin.

But Westerberg throws open the barn door for the all-out rockers "Lookin' Out Forever"

and "Final Hurrah." "Fugitive Kind" splits the difference; it features a soft piano intro but

turns, midway through, into a full-blown rock number.

Besides Colvin, the album features guest spots by singer Dave Pirner of fellow

Minneapolis rockers Soul Asylum and keyboardist Benmont Tench from Tom Petty's

Heartbreakers. But Westerberg worked alone for much of the album, playing guitar,

piano, keyboards, melodica, bass and percussion.

Westerberg continues to tug at hearts while turning catchy phrases in "Best Thing That

Never Happened" and "Whatever Makes You Happy," in which he sings, "Whatever

makes me lonesome/ It's the same thing that sets you free/ Now whatever makes you

happy/ I'm pretty sure it isn't me."

Ideas for some of the 12 songs on Suicaine Gratifaction -- the title is two made-up

words Westerberg has said he likes the sound of -- came on the long walks he regularly

takes.

"There's nowhere [the songs] all come together," he said. "I collect thoughts and read. A

lot of the collection starts in the bathtub, where I scratch things down. I still write a good

deal in my basement. But it's on my walks I take where I get my best stuff and things

come to me."