Just when you thought his 2009 collaboration with Timbaland would be Chris Cornell's all-time biggest misstep, the huge voice behind Soundgarden and Audioslave returns with a solo acoustic live album that recasts him as a guitar-strumming troubadour. But without Soundgarden's heavy-metal thunder and Tom Morello's waka-waka-waka backing him, Cornell sounds harsh, tentative, and out of his comfort zone on Songbook. And unlike similar projects by other, more interesting artists who share stories between songs, Cornell has very little to say about these tunes, which come off as empty navel-gazing without their loud and heavy backdrops. Cornell dips into his entire catalog (including Temple of the Dog and solo material), and also dusts off a moldy cover of John Lennon's "Imagine." Next time just bring the noise, dude. — Gallucci
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