In early 2011 Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn challenged himself to write a new song every day in his Brooklyn apartment for his first solo album. "I had written a bunch of songs that were outside of the norm for The Hold Steady, a little quieter and perhaps more narrative," he said. "I wanted to gain some experience and insight into the process of making a record by working with new people." Finn enlisted producer Mike McCarthy (Spoon) and traveled to an Austin, Texas studio far away from his New York comfort zone. He hooked up with some local musicians there, including members of Phosphorescent and White Denim and sang his vocals live, keeping takes to a minimum and completed recording in a few days. The Hold Steady singer admitted to Spinner
that one of the most difficult things about the project "was just to come in and meet musicians that I didn't know well." He explained: " I literally met them on a Monday morning and we jumped into recording the songs. That was something that was intimidating for me at first and in the end brought me a lot more confidence and happiness. In some ways, that's what I was after. That was a really cool thing." The resulting album, Clear Heart Full Eyes
was released on January 24, 2012 on Vagrant Records.