U2: ‘Songs of Innocence (Deluxe)’ Bonus Tracks Review

After a long winded debate with the public following the free release of their thirteenth studio album, Songs of Innocence, U2 is once again making their presence known with the incredible acoustic compilations with their From Acoustic Sessions on the Songs of Innocence – Deluxe Edition. Hailing from the hills of Dublin, Ireland, this band has been taking the world by storm since they first stepped foot on American soil. U2 has mastered the incredible skill of constructing music that is ever-changing, yet true to their roots.

From Acoustic Sessions displays additional acoustic versions of the album’s staple tracks, along with alternate versions of others. “Every Breaking Wave” is the second track off of the official album, and as breathtaking and intricate as the original version is, the acoustic addition of the song on the deluxe release is an amazing ode to the creative process of the band. It evokes a feeling for the listener as if they are sitting around a bonfire with Bono and The Edge, while the song evolves around them. The simplistic piano melody sets the pace for the track, as Bono’s iconic voice sounds poetic stanzas in a harmonious accompaniment. By the end of the second verse there is a noted layering of orchestral instrumentation, but not enough to overpower the piano that originated the song. As the song builds, Bono’s voice becomes vulnerable next to the climatic melody. This makes for an interesting contrast that U2 so commonly integrates into their music. An ironic lack of power in the vocals as the instrumental builds beneath it, allowing the listener to relate on an emotional level.

“Song for Someone” is my personal favorite acoustic version off of the deluxe edition. Once again, the listener is greeted by a simplistic piano melody in unison with Bono’s rich vocals. The track builds fairly quickly with the addition of percussion at the end of the first verse. This song is clearly very influenced by the earlier styles of U2 most clearly depicted on The Joshua Tree. Bono evades the defenselessness expected from his previous acoustic sessions, staying strong and powerful, even incorporating his characteristic vibrato that is so superhuman. The lyrics for this song are as mysterious as the harmony-driven backing vocals that accompany the second hook. A “Song for Someone” is perfect for anyone: it speaks to the hopeless romantic, the jaded debater, the happy newlywed, or the sad widow, holding not just one emotion, but evoking a different one in every listener. Your outlook on life at the moment will impact your view of this song, and I guarantee it will change three months from now. That’s the beauty of real music.

U2 is known for influencing their music based on the cities in which they write, which can truly be seen in their acoustic version of “California (There Is No End to Love).” The instrumental for this track makes you want to role down all the windows in your baby yellow punch buggy and drive down the palm tree-lined coast of Santa Monica. There is of course, that small chance that you don’t own a baby yellow punch buggy or live in California, and if you’re actually driving down the rainy streets of nowhere Connecticut in your Kia, the good news is this song will transport you to that sunny, carefree spot for three minutes and twenty seconds. There is certain optimism to this song that stresses the message behind it.

If I had all day, there wouldn’t be enough good things to say about these From Acoustic Sessions tracks on the Songs of Innocence – Deluxe Edition. While the original versions of these songs truly encapsulate U2 and their stylistic individualities, the acoustic versions bring a personal element that any music enthusiasts can appreciate. Being sure not to dissuade from their original sound, the acoustic interpretations of these songs are full of elaborate instrumentation that lend to the support of highly expressive lyrics. Living up to their tradition of giving back to the fans and the world in general, U2 provides their fans with a one-on-one experience in these acoustic versions, revealing a simpler side of their creative vision.