Best Albums of 2015: ‘Faith in the Future’ by Craig Finn (No. 8)

Craig-Finn-2015

The Hold Steady’s albums “Separation Sunday” and “Boys and Girls in America” are among my all-time favorite records, largely for the balance between Tad Kubler’s brawny guitar riffs and Craig Finn’s lyrical dexterity. What happens when the latter stands apart from the former?

Finn showed us in 2012 on his solo debut, “Clear Heart Full Eyes.” The album had its moments, to be sure, but also felt a bit tentative, as if the singer wasn’t quite comfortable without having Kubler’s guitar there to back him up. Finn stands fully on his own with “Faith in the Future,” which I reviewed for Paste. It’s No. 8 on my countdown of the best albums of 2015 (No. 9 is here, and No. 10 is here).

Like in most of his work, Finn sifts through the lives of characters on the fringes: the former cultist who narrates “Maggie I’ve Been Searching for Our Son,” the aging scenester in “Sandra From Scranton” and the pair that keeps wandering in search of something — maybe anything — without ever finding it on “Trapper Avenue.” Finn’s lyrical sketches are poignant but not sentimental, lucid and grounded to the point of gritty, but also relatable enough that even the straightest shooters can imagine themselves transposed into a slippery life with no safety rails.

With its varied musical textures, “Faith in the Future” is no Hold Steady album, but in this case, that’s very much meant as a compliment.

Bonus for Northampton: Finn performs March 24 at Pearl Street with Titus Andronicus.

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