If there’s one word to describe guitarist Mike McCready’s song contributions to Pearl Jam, it has to be “majestic”. Even the least majestic of Mike’s compositions still retains an element of larger-than-life grandeur. Here is a true believer in the epic, thunder-of-the-gods power of rock and roll–which is why fellow believers gloried in the sweeping vistas and wide-open spaces of Yield, thanks in no small part to three McCready tunes. “Faithfull” certainly deserves the descriptor, a broad and bold mountain of a song that can be as exhilarating to listen to as it must be to play.
Much of the charm of “Faithfull” lies in how it builds and releases tension. The song starts out with sparse instrumentation: cymbals and sticks, Ament’s distinctive bass, and a lone guitar playing a unfamiliar chord progression. Vedder sings the song mostly in his upper register, and the combination of voice and guitar makes the song feels as if it’s leaning out over some high ledge, dangling. Of course, then it drops. The song changes gears, guitars pile up, and the song sounds positively huge. “And echoes”, Vedder sings, savoring that apt and powerful last vowel as the reverb sweeps it away, “that nobody hears / it goes / it goes / it goes like this.” It’s interesting that Vedder sings, “I’m through with screaming” as it’s clear from other songs on Yield that he’s not. But on “Faithfull” his voice, though loud and booming”, is not a scream–not a howl of pain or tirade against injustice, but the clear and powerful bellow of someone who has found a reason, their own reason. This is what a Mike McCready song can do to you.