On Scott Weiland's latest solo effort, his middling cover of "Fame" gives away what nearly everyone already knows — this singer yearns to be David Bowie. While some critics have described Weiland as "enigmatic" and "chameleon like" in his various incarnations — Stone Temple Pilots frontman, voice of Velvet Revolver and sometime solo performer — the truth is that unlike the calculating Bowie, Weiland is more of a lost soul, trying on personality after personality, each one leaving him a little dissatisfied. As a result, Happy in Galoshes comes off fragmented and disjointed, flashing both brilliance and self-indulgence.
Some songs — like the hard, psychedelic pop of "Missing Cleveland" and pretty, melancholy bossa nova of "Killing Me Sweetly" — echo Stone Temple Pilot's underrated album, Tiny Music ... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop. Other times, it falls flat: "Paralysis" hasn't an original note, and the just-passable groove of "Big Black Monster" is forgettable. The latter is unfortunate, because lyrically it comes as close as any song has to relating the gritty experience of addiction, with the glamour utterly and completely stripped away. It's a rare moment without artifice.
In fact, listening to most of these songs makes one wonder whether the singer has made any sense of the wounds he's received and inflicted, both in his personal life and career. Instead of allowing his experiences to make him honest and whole, he seems to prefer to play musical mind games that keep him from going very deep. While Happy is far better than Weiland's first solo album, 1998's 12 Bar Blues, it's a lot like its creator — messy and still searching for a sense of self.
Performing live Wednesday, Jan. 28, at St. Andrew's Hall, 431 E. Congress, Detroit; 313-961-8137.
Janiss Garza writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.