I Need a New War is the final part of a musical trilogy that started in 2015 with Faith In The Future and 2017’s We All The Same Things. The final chapter is thematically similar and focuses on a group of characters who are trying their best to keep afloat in modern society. Part of this continuity comes from another team up with Josh Kaufman and Joe Russo, but there's no prerequisite to have heard the earlier albums, this work easily stands alone.
Although there are similarities to the other records, Finn is keen to explore other areas, and view things from a different perspective. As much as the songs are about the trials and tribulations of life they are about moving forward, for good or for bad, dealing with inevitable changes.
From the opening track, Blankets, with its girl meets guy story, followed by fuck ups and fall outs - and that's just for starters. Finn is a expert storyteller and the album has a ring of Leonard Cohen's I'm Your Man album, spun with the lilt of Van Morrison and Elvis Costello and the eagled eyed wit of Paul Brady. A Bathtub in the Kitchen is an example of the terrific fusion of lyrics and melody that is on offer.
Another hidden jem is tucked away at the end of the album, Her With The Blues, is a lighter reflection of relationships in flux. The album ends with Anne Marie and Shane a tale of two lovers where we are a fly on the wall until the music fades out, leaving us once again in limbo, not knowing how the story ends - which is pretty much like real life. At least here, once the disc stops spinning, you are free to make up your own mind and Finn's refusal to spoon feed or patronize is part of the charm and complexity with the album.
After delving into such human emotions and concerns and making the mundane beautiful it's clear that The Hold Steady frontman has new battles in his sights. I Need a New War signals a potential sea change for his future solo works.