There will be no more Catholic album than No. 44, the Hold Steady’s sophomore disc, Separation Sunday.
The band is fronted by Twin Cities native Craig Finn, previously of the band Liftr Pullr. Finn’s sing-speak method of delivering his vocals is unmistakable. Just as his habit of telling stories that run through not just entire albums, but leap from disc to disc.
On this one, story focuses on Holly, short for Hallelujah. Like many of his characters, she’s a troubled young adult living on the fringes, turning tricks and taking drugs. Along the way we meet an equally sordid cast of characters. Her story culminates with a visit to Mass, where she crashes into the congregation on the album’s strongest track.
Highlights: Your Little Hoodrat Friend, Charlemagne in Sweatpants, a story of a pimp that references Springsteen, Jane’s Addiction and, of course, Lionel Richie; Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night; and How a Resurrection Really Feels, on my shortlist of best album closers, along with The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, White Trash Heroes and Vapor Trails.
Name: The Hold Steady, Separation Sunday
Record Company: Frenchkills Records
Running Time: 42:11
- Hornets! Hornets!
- Cattle and Creeping Things
- Your Little Hoodrat Friend
- Banging Camp
- Charlemagne in Sweatpants
- Steve Nix
- Multitude of Casualties
- Don’t Let Me Explode
- Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night
- Crucifixion Cruise
- How a Resurrection Really Feels