Released in 1998 on Atlantic Records, the album was not a commercial success, but achieved some critical acclaim. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic gave the album 4 out of 5 stars, declaring "12 Bar Blues is an unpredictable, carnivalesque record confirming that Weiland was the visionary behind STP's sound. He's fascinated by sound, piling on layers of shredded guitars, drum loops, and keyboards, making sure that each song sounds drastically different from its predecessor." David Fricke of Rolling Stone awarded the album 3.5 out of 5 stars and declared that "12 Bar Blues isn't really a rock album, or even a pop album. Weiland, out on his own, has simply made an honest album – honest in its confusion, ambition and indulgence. It was worth the risk." but also remarked that "Maybe it's a little early for Scott Weiland to be going the solo way." Historian Piero Scaruffi gave it a 7 out of 10 and claimed that "12 Bar Blues is a noble work in the tradition of "lo-fi" songwriters like Robert Pollard and Beck, a collection of quirky ditties with lively and inventive arrangements." He later listed the album as being one of the best rock albums of the 90s.Pitchfork Media stated upon its release that "12 Bar Blues is easily the most innovative album Weiland has ever produced for public consumption," while Entertainment Weekly wrote that "the LP's sheer invention and hooks will make your indulgence worthwhile."