We hate to disappoint Red Hot Chili Peppers fans, but if the band’s hiatus yields more recordings from John Frusciante, we think it’s for the greater good. Despite his prolific solo output, Frusciante’s 10th solo album may also be his most satisfying. While The Empyrean features appearances from RHCP bandmate Flea and the Smiths’ Johnny Marr, neither of these cameos overshadow the album’s central focus: Frusciante’s brilliant playing and songwriting. Predictably, the instrumental “Before The Beginning” showcases Frusciante’s soulful brand of soloing, however what’s more surprising is the degree to which he’s progressed as a vocalist via the ambient Tim Buckley cover “Song To The Siren” and soulful, groove-driven standout “Heaven.” In other words, The Empyrean ultimately proves that if things don’t work out with his main gig, Frusciante has a healthy, slap bass-free career ahead.
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