|Dave Navarro - Trust No One|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Tuesday, 19 June 2001|
If the name Dave Navarro doesn’t sound familiar to you, then you need a brief history lesson in alternative rock. As a founding member of Jane’s Addiction, Navarro and bandmate Perry Farrell created one of the bands that pioneered hard alternative rock music. Jane's Addiction has been a huge influence on nearly all modern-day rockers. Navarro’s guitar work impressed the Red Hot Chili Peppers so much that, in 1995, he landed the gig as their replacement guitarist when John Fruciante left the band. Navarro has since gone back to Jane’s Addiction, but he’s had songs brewing in his head for many years that he’s wanted to put on a solo album, and he’s finally realized that dream with his first solo album, Trust No One.
I had no reason to doubt Navarro's musical talent, but I was surprised to find that the guitar playing on Trust No One isn’t the best part of this album -- the singing is. Navarro’s voice is incredibly confident for his first solo album. He’s sung his fair share of backup vocals with Jane's Addiction, but this is the first time I’ve heard Navarro up in front and his voice shows no lack of confidence whatsoever. His vocal tone is a bit like that of Soundgarden's Chris Cornell, with a slightly softer edge.
If you are expecting any songs that sound like Jane’s Addiction, you aren’t going to find them here. Jane’s drummer Steven Perkins lends a hand on "Not For Nothing," but this song sounds more like distorted Nine Inch Nails techno than Jane’s Addiction. The majority of the drum parts on Trust No One are handled by studio musician extraordinaire Matt Chamberlain, whose resume reads like a Who’s Who of music. Chamberlain tears through Navarro’s simple arrangements with the ease and style of a seasoned veteran.
Producer Jon Brion, who let Navarro borrow many of his eclectic music instruments and studio gear for the album, plays guitar on the track "Very Little Daylight." Always a sucker for bizarre sounds, Brion plays a ring modulator guitar that adds a futuristic trippy texture to the song. Brion also adds vocal texture and plays slide bass on the song "Mourning Son."
All of the songs on Trust No One are original, except for a dark grinding cover of "Venus in Furs" by the Velvet Underground. It’s a song you may have heard before, but it sounds right at home sandwiched in between Navarro’s own songs. He’s a slightly twisted guy and it comes across in his songwriting. The lyrics are highly personal and often disturbing, but not overrun with blatant obscenities. The song "Hungry" seems to be the tale of his struggle with heroin addiction as he sings, "Needle and tinfoil, I never thought that I’d be gone/Please leave me here in the empty world, fall in love with the empty girl/If I go outside I’ll feel much better/Let me hit myself, I’m starting to feel." On the song "Everything," the lyrics get even more twisted. " I wanna taste your saliva, I wish that you were my daughter, I wish that I was your father, we could keep secrets." Track after track, Navarro takes us on a wild ride to the darker side of life in short, pop-metal bursts.
The album’s closer is a melodic acoustic guitar-driven song called "Slow Motion Sickness." It brings the listener slowly back to the surface after spending the previous 40 minutes swimming in the depths of Navarro’s mind. Producer Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine) lends a hand on this track with some keyboard work and plays the song’s bass part.
Trust No One is filled with talented musicians and producers, so it’s no surprise that the album sounds as good as, if not better than, most modern rock albums. It’s not reference caliber sound and the songwriting is a little simplistic, but Trust No One is a solo effort that is surprisingly good. Navarro hasn’t yet bettered the band he came from like Dave Grohl did with the Foo Fighters (Nirvana fans, spare me your hate mail), but he has come close with his first try as a solo artist.