I was listening to just the audio from the webcasts and I definitely think it's a very strong set of songs. Classic Neil Finn melodies and lyrics, just beautiful stuff.
At the same time, I was thinking about my earlier post in another thread about this album and its process, as well as Neil's historical creative process from composition to album release (as I understand it) and I can't help feeling that many of these songs would have benefitted from being more uniquely arranged for each individual song - especially that magical alchemy that happens when he translates piano composed songs to guitars and other interesting arrangement and production approaches.
I can hear many of them improved by being sped up and moved to guitars, more in the CH or One Nil/All way with all the eccentric touches that give each song a signature. The hooks would leap out more, the music would feel more muscular and assertive, enhancing the gorgeous chord changes and making intricate harmonic musical development within the arrangements clearer.
I think the album will be wonderful and the mix will clarify and help each track feel more distinct from one another, but, at the moment, at least, I tend to agree with those who feel the form has overwhelmed the content in this instance. I will wait for the final results to draw any real conclusions, but I'm not positive this method of recording, in the end, didn't end up being more of a gimmick than the ideal way to make an album. It will be a beautiful Neil Finn album full of beautiful Neil Finn songs and I'll never complain about THAT. I just think this set of songs really could have benefited from an arrangement and production approach that harkened back to Neil's 1986-1998 years - where each song created its own sonic identity while still living coherently and comfortably within the crowded houses of its particular album.
I don;'t know. These are just some initial, premature thoughts.
Time will tell - and time is virtually ALWAYS kind to Neil Finn's work.