Jackson Browne isn’t bothered about being original in his first album for seven years… he is not looking to make life harder for himself or his listeners
In the Olympics of pop, two countries dominate the medal tables: the US and the UK. Broadly speaking, if you value originality, Britain is the winner, although of course there are American trailblazers, from Chuck Berry to Fiona Apple.
If you prefer proficiency, then, with notable exceptions such as Eric Clapton, America wins hands down.
Jackson Browne, now 72, isn’t bothered about being original. The man who co-wrote the Eagles’ Take It Easy is not looking to make life harder for himself or his listeners. +1
Jackson Browne, now 72 (above), isn’t bothered about being original. The man who co-wrote the Eagles’ Take It Easy is not looking to make life harder for himself or his listeners
His smooth Californian soft rock has barely changed since 1974, but that’s fine because he’s so proficient at it.
Downhill From Everywhere is his first album for seven years. It’s as if he went to sleep and woke up when Donald Trump was gone, which may be a mercy as Browne has long been a vocal eco campaigner.
On these ten new tracks his politics poke through only occasionally. They’re songs in the key of a long life.
With A Human Touch he delivers the ballad that lockdown demanded, pulsating with love and pain. On Minutes To Downtown he contemplates mortality while apparently addressing his girlfriend, Dianna Cohen, who is in her 50s.
‘The years I’ve seen that fell between my date of birth and yours,’ he sings, ‘fade beyond the altered shore of a river changing course.’ It takes some skill to write lines that long and make them sing.
Another gem is entitled Still Looking For Something. It could be about Bob Dylan, who hasn’t let his 80th birthday stop him branching out. For his latest trick he staged a livestreamed gig called Shadow Kingdom.
The setlist was enticing: Forever Young returned after ten years off, Tombstone Blues after 15. The sound was refreshing: a soulful acoustic ensemble rather than the usual blues-rock thump.
The atmosphere was alluring: a bar packed with young people, smoking like there’s no today.
And the singing, at first, was exasperating – thin and grumpy, as if Dylan didn’t want to be there. But then he found the tenderness beneath his tetchy rasp and delivered a gorgeous version of To Be Alone With You.
The show, which cost $28.75, expires at 8am tomorrow. If you know any die-hard fans, you may want to drop in on them today.