Craig Finn, The Hold Steady's front man, is known for his joyous stage presence and romantic depictions of tragic, seedy characters in search of redemption. On his second solo album, Faith in the Future, he trades in such grandiose notions for something quieter and more introspective. This shift in most evident in the album's stripeed down instrumentation, wihch, aside from a few jarringly fuzzed out guitar-solos, is so sparse and unobtrusive that it borders on being bland. In addition, Finn's lyrical delivery comes off as tired and tepid - a striking contrast to the wholehearted enthusiasm that makes The Hold Steady's work so appealing. The best songs on this record derive strength from their thematic content. On 'Maggie I've Been Searching for Our Son' and 'Roman Guitars', the lyrics are tender and optimistic as Finn looks for salvation after a series of rough life experiences. On 'Newmyer's Roof', he recounts the disorienting horror of watching the Twin Towers fall from a friend's roof in Brooklyn, and the search for meaning that ensues. While there are frequent instances of skillfully crafted lyrics found throughout the album, the lackluster music they're packaged in prevents them from shining through.