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The fourth solo outing from Red Hot Chili Pepper guitarist John Frusciante -- OK, fifth for those counting his free 21-track downloadable-only From the Sounds Inside released in 2001 -- is his most accessible effort to date in terms of mainstream appeal. It is likewise worth mentioning that he has made available demos of a majority of these sides on his website for a limited time. Frusciante also maintains intermittent contact with the avant-garde forces that drove the Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a T-Shirt coupling in 1995. Admittedly, enthusiasts of his edgier lo-fi recordings may find 2004's Shadows Collide With People too polished and produced. However, the sonic spit-shine rarely detracts from the very palpable emotive presence within each of the selections. Although Frusciante and Josh Klinghoffer (guitar/vocals/bass/keyboards/percussion) divvy up the lion's share of the instrumentation, the two are joined by fellow Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and bassist Flea -- the latter contributing an upright bassline to The Slaughter -- as well as Omar Rodriguez on slide guitar and Charlie Clouser's orchestral programming. While Omission is signified by Klinghoffer's co-lead vocal, at the center remains Frusciante's probing melodic sense. He vacillates between the power-chord rockers Carvel, Second Walk, and This Song and the haunting beauty of Regret, which is set against the decidedly more experimental and bold -00Ghost27, 23 Go In to End, and Failure33 Object. These wordless excursions lacerate a discernible swath across Frusciante's otherwise introspective songwriting. Examples include the introduction to In Relief, Water, and the Byrds-ish feel incorporated into Cut-Out. Even though it might not be the artist's intended goal, with such strong -- if not arguably disparate -- material exemplifying the best of what Frusciante has to offer, Shadows Collide With People has something for his listeners past, present, and future. ~ Lindsay Planer
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