3rd SECRET – 3rd Secret (2022)
Some of the most renowned names from the ’90s grunge movement; Krist Novoselic of Nirvana, Matt Cameron of Pearl Jam / Soundgarden, and Kim Thayil of Soundgarden have teamed up in a new band called 3rd SECRET and surprise-released their debut album, marking the first time Thayil and Cameron have released music together since Chris Cornell’s death.
The band also features Bubba Dupree of the seminal hardcore band Void who influenced Nirvana and other grunge bands, along with vocalists Jillian Raye (of Krist Novoselic’s band Giants in the Trees) and Jennifer Johnson. They made the self-titled LP with grunge producer Jack Endino (who worked with both Nirvana and Soundgarden and played with Matt Cameron in Skin Yard).
3rd Secret’s debut album definitely has some of that classic Seattle grunge sound, but there’s an even greater emphasis on acoustic ‘campfire’ stuff, folk and psychedelia, and Jillian and Jennifer’s female vocal haunting harmonies work well in that realm.
Opening with a cheery acoustic guitar, ‘Rhythm Of The Ride’ is a nostalgic folk song that sees vocalists Jillian Raye and Jennifer Johnson offering encouragement and hope. With lyrics such as “I know it’ll be just fine / so stay strong, my love” sung over pretty and delicate acoustic guitar arrangement, the song is a world away from the aggression and despair that captured the hearts of an alienated generation in the ‘90s.
It’s not even a playful bait-and-switch either; most of ‘3rd Secret’ follows this same, nicely meandering path.
Of course, there are moments where these musicians do come out to play. There’s the brooding swagger of ‘I Choose Me’ and the aching rock & roll theatrics of ‘Diamond In The Cold’. ‘Somewhere In Time’ features lyrical nods to both Alanis Morrisette and Christina Perri and Thayil manages to conjure Soundgarden’s stadium-sized power on ‘Last Day Of August’ with an acoustic guitar.
Lyrically, the songs traverse unrequited love, loss and pointed revenge, but with little bite. Musically, there’s not a hint of ego or showmanship across the project. When there is a flourish of rock’n’roll excess – see the solo on ‘Lies Fade Away’ – it’s utterly joyful but all too fleeting.
For the most part, though, ‘3rd Secret’ sounds like these musicians sitting politely around a campfire and jamming, rather than trying to relive their glory days or challenge their legacy.
There is a warmth to the whole record, with this group (rounded out by guitarist Bubba Dupree, who usually plays in hardcore band The Void) clearly relaxed in each other’s company.
The result is a well-mannered, courteous record that feels like it’s constantly pulling its punches.
01 – Rhythm of the Ride
02 – I Choose Me
03 – Last Day of August
04 – Winter Solstice
05 – Lies Fade Away
06 – Live Without You
07 – Right Stuff
08 – Dead Sea
09 – Diamond in the Cold
10 – Somewhere in Time
11 – The Yellow Dress
Jillian RayeJennifer Johnson