Best known as the singer of the Hold Steady, Craig Finn is a Minnesota-bred singer, songwriter, and guitarist based out of New York City.
Combining literary influences like Jack Kerouac and John Berryman with the musical influences of Bruce Springsteen and fellow Minnesotan Paul Westerberg, Finn's highly descriptive lyrical style has a strong focus on narrative, crafting whole worlds for the people in his songs to exist within. While the lyrical style of Finn's solo material resembled his work with his band, the music was more subdued and atmospheric, with keyboards often playing a larger role than the guitars. The moody sound of 2015's Faith in the Future and 2017's We All Want the Same Things matured into a richer, more soul-influenced attack on 2019's I Need a New War.
In 1994, the singer put this style to work with the indie rock band Lifter Puller, refining his craft over the course of their three albums before the band called it quits in 2000. Finn relocated from the Twin Cities to New York, where he would collaborate with producer Mr. Projectile on the short-lived project the Brokerdealer in 2001 before eventually reuniting with Lifter Puller bassist Tad Kubler to form the Hold Steady in 2004. While the band's whiskey-fueled bar rock sound was a departure from the angular, synth-filled sounds of Lifter Puller, Finn's lyrically dense storytelling style remained intact, making the Hold Steady the thinking-man's bar band.
After five albums with the band, the singer and songwriter tried his hand at a solo album during some downtime from his main project, and in 2012 he released Clear Heart Full Eyes on Vagrant Records. In 2015, Finn dropped his second solo album; Faith in the Future, released by Partisan Records, was drawn from a set of songs inspired by themes of loss and survival that Finn wrote in the wake of his mother's death. His third record appeared in March 2017. Like his previous solo work, We All Want the Same Thing sounded like a continued riposte to the wilder side of the Hold Steady, while retaining his much-praised narrative lyrical style. For 2019's I Need a New War, Finn added subtle R&B accents -- choppy guitars and soulful horns -- to put a fresh perspective on his songs of lives in the balance. ~ Gregory Heaney, Rovi