With Lightsleeper having just dropped, and Neil set to tour as a member of Fleetwood Mac in the coming months, I was wondering what form everyone would like Neil's next studio album to take, or what they think is most likely.
Here are some of the projects not beyond the realms of possibility:
- A new studio album with Fleetwood Mac
To me it's 50/50 on whether this becomes a thing, or if Neil's simply in the band to fill the role of a male vocalist for a lot of the old FM songs. I guess time will tell, but it might also depend a lot on the reaction to the live shows. I'd love to see an album of songwriting duties divided up between Christine, Stevie and Neil. The harmonising would be amazing.
- A third Finn Brothers album
This has apparently been in the pipeline for a few years, with almost a full album of songs said to be already written. Whether some of these alleged tracks ended up being used for last year's Out of Silence or this year's Lightsleeper I don't know. A Finn Brothers song, Alone, ended up on last year's Out of Silence featuring Tim on co-vocals. What this means I don't know, but the last Finn Brothers album was 14 years ago now. Everyone Is Here feels like it came out yesterday, but the gap between 1991's Woodface and 2004's Everyone Is Here was only 13 years.
- A second Neil & Liam Finn album
Unlikely that Neil would do the same thing twice in a row, but since Neil & Liam were unable to properly tour Lightsleeper they may continue playing live after Fleetwood Mac is finished. At that point a second album might just come about, kinda similar to how U2 recorded Zooropa while touring their previous album.
- A fifth solo album
Neil's been on a creative roll with 2014's Dizzy Heights and last year's Out of Silence, and may feel drawn to becoming a solo artist after working with Liam and Fleetwood Mac recently. A "solo" Neil also frees him up to play live any number of songs from any of his numerous projects over the years.
- A third 7 Worlds Collide project
Working with Liam and Fleetwood Mac may have also reinvigorated Neil's love for collaboration. Imagine a follow up to 2009's The Sun Came Out with the likes of Mick Fleetwood and Connan Mockasin involved. Throw in any of Jeff Tweedy, Lorde, Eddie Vedder, Lisa Germano, Johnny Marr, Dave Dobbyn, Bic Runga, etc. There are also countless other musicians that this could work well for. K.T. Tunstall's 'Hazel Black' was a great song for example.
- A second Pajama Club album.
After the Fleetwood Mac tour finishes up, Neil might just prefer to play it a bit more low-key and put out a follow-up to 2011's first Pajama Club album with Sharon. It feels like the sort of album that could be made in a couple of months if it was to be done as more of a stop-gap release. No one's saying it would need to be toured extensively.
- A Finn Family Band album
This has real potential and would not surprise me one bit. Think about all the talent this project could include. Tim, Neil and Liam obviously. Elroy has also been writing and recording his own songs lately. Tim's son Harper can hold his own on with a musical instrument, as documented by the Encore concerts. Tim's daughter Elliot did some vocals on Where's My Room from Lightsleeper and has played drums for her father in the past. Sharon does a great job on bass and vocals. We have a great starting point here.
- A seventh Crowded House album
Would be shocked if Neil returned to Crowded House so soon after the Encore concerts. As far as I'm concerned 'CH Mark 2' effectively finished up in 2011, with 2016's Encore serving as more of a one-off "reunion" special to tide the fans over and celebrate the reissues. Just my opinion obviously. I do expect a full worldwide reunion tour at some point, but probably not for a very long time.
- A new Split Enz album
To me this is more likely than a new Crowded House album. Still a massive long shot, but we know there's a Finn Brothers album in the pipeline, and who's to say it couldn't morph into a new Enz album? I'm fairly certain there was talk of a new Enz studio album back during the Enz of the Millennium gigs. Edible Flowers even came from that period. If this were to happen I'd love to see some involvement from Phil Judd but realise that will likely never happen. Both Phil and Eddie Rayner have been constantly releasing new material over the past few years, so a full collaboration would be great, not just a Finn Brothers album masquerading as an Enz album.
- A new album with Jimmy Barnes
I've heard talk of Neil planning to write an album for Jimmy Barnes. Not sure how serious this is, but if it were to happen I'd much rather it be a duets / collaboration album instead. He did write Blue Hotel for Jimmy a few years back. Neil also seemed to enjoy the Goin' Your Way tour with Paul Kelly, so a studio collaboration with him wouldn't be completely out of the question either.
- Music for a new soundtrack
2001's Rain was great, and with some of Lightsleeper's songs very ambient and experimental there's nothing to say this style of music wouldn't fit perfectly as the soundtrack to a movie. Rain itself came out of the blue at the time, and I can't imagine something similar would take as much energy as a fully-fledged new studio album.
Of course knowing Neil, his next main project will probably be something from the left field. He's probably sitting on his computer reading this having a good old laugh!
Could we also expect a new best-of or rarities album? The Very Best of Neil Finn would have more than enough material to fill it out.
What about a covers album? Surely that's overdue? How about an album where he re-records some of his older songs in a different context? Perhaps with guest vocalists? a Band of Strangers II in the form of 7 Worlds Collide? A tour with Mark Seymour, Missy Higgins and Bernard Fanning in the style of Goin' Your Way or Tim Finn, Dave Dobbyn and Bic Runga's Together In Concert?
I guess the possibilities are endless when it comes to Neil at this stage of his life...
Would love to hear your thoughts, but with this many possible outlets for Neil's creativity I'm just happy he keeps releasing new music. And great music at that.