“Neil Finn remains, at his core, a purveyor of pure pop for now people. On this disc…he stays true to form, serving up something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue” (Sprague). “Finn's long-running lyrical concerns--love, loyalty, and, predominantly, self-doubt--have never been expressed more adroitly” (Dempster) as Finn delivers his “most straightforward album since Crowded House's Woodface” (Erlewine).
“Curiously, for an album that plays to his strengths, a good portion is the result of a fruitful collaboration with Wendy & Lisa [best known for their stint in Prince & the Revolution], plus a production pairing with Tchad Blake and numerous cameo spots, including Sheryl Crow, Lisa Germano, and Mitchell Froom. For all the guests and star power, the record is surprisingly subtle…the songs are gently insinuating, slowly working their way into the subconscious” (Erlewine). “The little details — the turns of phrase, the gently persuasive melodies, the slyly detailed productions — all confirm his status as a gifted craftsman” (Erlewine).
“Finn wastes little time in showing his considerable prowess. The opening track, The Climber, is vintage Finn, a superbly crafted mid-tempo pop tune with a sing-song melody” (Baltin).
“The swirling effects and treated guitars” (Dempster) of “the bright, breezy Rest of the Day Off” (Sprague) “hint more at latter-day Split Enz and even, occasionally, Oasis, than Crowded House” (Dempster).
Neil’s “wife Sharon is lauded as ‘the true companion at your side’ on Wherever You Are” (Q magazine), which, along with “the lilting Lullaby Requiem, [available only on the U.S. version] falls into the dreamy, introspective territory that yielded Crowded House's most memorable material, with wisps of vocal drifting over the arrangements” (Sprague).
In a similar vein, Turn and Run is “a rending ballad that teams Finn with Sheryl Crow” (Sprague), although her contribution is limited to that of a backup singer rather than a full-fledged duet partner.
However, “Finn does prove willing to kick things up a notch -- with the help of collaborators Wendy and Lisa Melvoin…who are brilliantly showcased on Last to Know, which snakes along with a Paisley Park-tinged gait” (Sprague) that “flashes Morrissey-inspired wit (‘Ill end up under a bus/ With my fingers crossed’)” (Eonline.com).
They reappear again on ”Secret God where [they] assault a Joni Michell-ish jazz-folk canvas with grimy guitars, ravishing harmonies and a barking Bitches Brew outro” (Q magazine).
“Monogamous shagging is unembarrassingly essayed on Don’t Ask Why” (Q magazine); “Elastic Heart has something of the soul about it” (Q magazine). “Anytime is a jolly song about popping your clogs and everywhere there are shafts of melody like sunshine in a wood” (Q magazine). Driving Me Mad appropriates its shuffling rhythm from the streets of New Orleans, though it's the song's melody -- one of Finn's trademark off-kilter doozies -- that steals the spotlight (Sprague).
This album once again displays that “Finn has become one of the most respected songwriters in music (Baltin). “How fine it would be if he were as big as Sting” (Q magazine). Still, even without that level of recognition, there is no doubt that this is “a very Finn, er, fine offering” (Eonline.com).