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Dave Navarro

Trust No One (Capitol Records)

Though the cover of the advance release of this debut solo effort has the former Chili Pepper and Jane's Addiction guitarist placidly eating a bowl of cereal, a better stab at truth in advertising would show him prone on a psychiatrist's couch. That's because Trust No One (and the title is certainly an indication of its outlook) is all about Navarro coming to terms with his jam-packed closet of fears and emotional problems. It is a dark and negative view of life, relationships and fame, and could easily be dismissed as another celebrity whine-a-thon were it not for this simple fact: The record is pretty damn good. Call it Dave Navarro's Dark Places.

In a flat but confident voice that is very Dylanesque (Jakob, not Bob), Navarro opens his head and heart for an almost autopsylike inspection. "Rexall" (named for the drug store where his parents met) tracks the dissolution of their relationship, while "Sunny Day" finds our hero moping about indoors. For two of the record's most outright rawk tracks, Navarro finds evil muses, nay Furies, in ex-girlfriends. "Everything" and "Not for Nothing" are vitriolic, hurtful and laden heavy with blame. And while he does mention his own emotional detachment and shortcomings, his dismissal of the "starfucker" ex is more than a bit disingenuous and hypocritical.

A cover of the Velvet Underground's S&M classic "Venus in Furs" is a kinky treat, but as the album progresses, limp tracks like "Avoiding the Angel" and "Very Little Daylight" continue to pound themes already explored more skillfully in previous numbers, making these two utterly redundant.

Navarro calls a time-out on a fear-filled life.
Navarro calls a time-out on a fear-filled life.

The record's most personal song, "Mourning Son," packs an emotional wallop, but only when you know that at the age of 15, Navarro witnessed the murders of his aunt and mother at the hands of the latter's boyfriend. In fact, his mother's death hangs over the entire record, something that Navarro seems unable to find peace with but is nevertheless eager to explore.

Surprisingly -- given Navarro's chops -- Trust No One is not a heavy guitar record. Instead, he creates numerous sonic crests and valleys relying more on computer/synth loops and his own strong bass playing. This approach ultimately benefits the material, making the music vital and interesting even when the lyrics are not.

With Trust No One, Dave Navarro proves that he has enough talent and creativity to forge a solo career, and hopefully he has exorcised or at least pacified his demons on this outwardly negative and cynical record. Whether he goes for a heavier guitar sound on the next effort or the bright acoustic strumming of "Slow Motion Sickness" is left open, but hopefully he'll trust at least someone by then. But then wasn't it B.B. King who said, "Nobody loves me but my mama, and she might be jivin' too"?

 
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