Album: J D Souther, If the World Was You (Slow Curve/Rhino)

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The Independent Culture

Having re-established the Eagles connection that made him one of the most successful songwriters in America, John David Souther returns as a performer with his first solo album in 25 years.

But despite being one of the principal architects of the California cowboy sound that conquered the world in the 1970s, Souther's ambitious new album bears scant comparison with that smooth country-rock style. The closest he comes are a couple of songs replete with chord changes and tonalities familiar from Eagles hits, "I'll Be Here at Closing Time" and "In My Arms Tonight", directed respectively at a worldly waitress and an innocent girl ("You wanna be my girlfriend? It's like standing in a whirlwind", he suggests, modestly). These days, though, Souther's more drawn to jazz and blues, leading a small combo through the cool rumba grooves of "Journey Down the Nile" and "One More Night", the latter's Dr John-ish piano stylings carrying a typically well-turned lyric ("If no-one is guilty and no-one's to blame, where's the fun, where's the pity, where's the shame?"). It's a warm, engaging set which builds inexorably to "The Secret Handshake of Fate", a 13-minute rumination in a Kind of Blue mood.

Download this: 'A Chorus of Your Own', 'I'll Be Here at Closing Time', 'The Secret Handshake of Fate'