It seems Neil Finn has got comfortable with sounding like Neil Finn. He tried his best not to on
debut solo album Try Whistling This. While it impressed with its ambition and sense of adventure,
it left not much of a lasting impression. Ultimately, TWT felt like a battle between his musical
heart and head was won by Finn the pop genius keen to paint his songs in a more abstract way than
the Crowded House canvas ever allowed.
Now, on One Nil he's refined the approach. As an album it variously feels warmer, more personal,
more romantic than its predecessor. Despite a small raft of international collaborators,
co-writers and supporting players, including ex-Prince sidewomen Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman,
Sheryl Crow, one-time Crowded House producer and keyboardist Mitchell Froom, among others, many
of the the songs have a down-at-the-bach spirit to them and low-key but textured production to
It certainly starts off somewhere near the front porch on opener The Climber, an acoustic-framed
ballad of gentle feedback, ukulele accompaniment and a chorus that suggests the hush of dusk.
Likewise, there's a dreamy, hazy quality that runs throughout the dozen tracks.
That's whether it's the first single Rest of the Day Off ("You find the answer, walking the dog
south of Piha ... "); Last to Know's folky jangle-with-violin which fair erupts into a fireworks
burst in its single chorus. Elsewhere, Hole in the Ice offers a rare rave-up; less satisfying are
the likes of Don't Ask Why's funky nonsense, and Elastic Heart which after its
inside-out-sounding verses hits something resembling a pow-wow in its middle section.
But there is many a moment of heart-in-the mouth loveliness - Crow features on two of them.
First, Turn and Run, the Better Be Home Soon of his set, on which her vocals add nicely to its
country-plaintiveness, and its equally arresting near-relation Driving Me Mad towards the end.
So, in the end, One Nil is well-named - a modest victory, but enough to keep Finn in a league of
his own. 4/5