Upon the release of his solo debut album, Trust No One, Dave Navarro was certainly hoping to avoid that horrible fate that awaits oh so many artists who go from being a member of a successful band to having a not-so successful solo career. For example, what ever happened to Slash’s Snake Pit? Luckily for Navarro, Trust No One appears to be more on the Sting side of the solo venture, taking the listener by surprise — although the album seems to be good for many of the wrong reasons. Navarro first entered the music scene as a member of the band Jane’s Addiction. Formed in the mid-eighties, the band was an often-overlooked pioneer of the alternative genre. After Jane’s Addiction split in 1991 because of certain addictions of their own, Navarro kicked the habit, and returned to the world as a session guitarist, guesting on albums such as Nine Inch Nails’ Further Down the Spiral and Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. Shortly after he had a brief stint with the Red Hot Chili Peppers for One Hot Minute, but soon returned to his old friends in Jane’s Addiction. His solo efforts have been in the making for a few years.
The album Trust No One is certainly not what one would expect from Navarro, who had always presented himself as a mysterious, talented guitarist. The album’s vocals are certainly the most striking part of Navarro’s effort. Who knew that this guy could sing? His sound comes through on the album as strong–a fantastic hard rock voice that shows a great capacity for flexibility. Navarro’s use of melody and harmony gives the songs a feeling of rising and falling. The riffs are catchy as they ascend and descend effortlessly. Navarro’s voice is at times subtle, mysterious, and soft, while on other tracks, his voice soars to a haunting yell. The versatility of his voice is most impressive for a first solo effort, and adds a lot to lyrics that are for the most part either too straightforward or difficult to understand.
A disappointing aspect of the album, however, is that while he’s busy singing, the guitar skills that amazed us on One Hot Minute are for the most part absent. Not that the guitars on the album aren’t good, but the solos that the listener would expect from the long-time lead guitarist are strangely lacking. This doesn’t detract from the album, however, and there are many other aspects of the recording that make it very pleasurable listening.
The sound of the album is constantly changing. At times it seems to be a throwback to the alternative songs of the early to mid-nineties. At other points on the album, however, the sound becomes very modern, almost industrial, as Navarro’s debt to Nine Inch Nails becomes apparent. The change is welcome, as it keeps the album interesting, and the listener guessing.
Another excellent part of the album is the rhythm, thanks mostly to drummer Matt Chamberlain, who maintains a driving beat throughout. On really hard-rock songs, the beat pushes forward, keeping the songs moving fast. Even on softer songs, however, the percussion presence is well felt — keeping soft from becoming mushy. The addition of synthesizers and drum machines also adds another level to the sound — not always a welcome addition, but on the whole it works well.
The album’s first single, “Rexall,” is one that has been receiving airplay for quite some time. The song is fairly representative of the album as a whole. The verses are quiet, with a subtle background guitar — the sound focuses more on Navarro’s voice. The choruses, however, are more indicative of the hard rock side of the album, with loud guitars and vocals. Lyrics like “There is no love left in your eyes, there is love between your thighs,” are sure to grab the listener’s attention, at the very least.
The album continues on a roller coaster of ups and downs, quiets and louds. Unfortunately, taken as a whole, there is very little on the album that really sticks out. The songs have a tendency to blend together, which admittedly makes the album flow well as a whole. At the same time, though, it sort of sounds like one long forty-five minute song … but at least it’s a good song.
Navarro’s solo debut, Trust No One, shows that the former lead guitarist has stepped into the spotlight, and isn’t planning on leaving anytime soon. The album is mature — it certainly doesn’t sound like a debut — but then again, Navarro has been his own man for his whole career. The soaring sounds of Navarro’s guitar and voice surely foreshadow great things to come.
Archived article by Merri Coleman