While this is Craig Finn’s third solo album away from The Hold Steady, the singer-songwriter assures fans that his group will continue to do short, irregular tours. Meanwhile, We All Want the Same Things is his first solo work to veer significantly from Hold Steady’s teen romanticism, offering mature, literary stories of characters who might belong in a Bukowski landscape. Some of the lyrics might feel like a wordier equivalent of John Mellencamp’s finest work, but the unexpected, exquisite arrangements on tracks like “Preludes” and “Birds Trapped in the Airport” move Finn into a higher league. There are still occasional signs of hope, despite the songs’ roots in tragedies of various types. The spoken-word tale of a departed drug dealer and his sister, “God in Chicago,” is especially powerful, cementing Finn’s accomplishments on his best album to date.
File next to: Warren Zevon, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp