Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Jackson Browne - Late For The Sky (1974)


Released September 1974

Recorded in Hollywood

Jackson Browne's mid-seventies albums (indeed pretty much all his albums, but particularly these ones) are tender, meaningful, melodic and sensitive affairs. Usually only eight songs or so, all around five minutes in length - piano-driven with some tuneful, subtle guitar enhancements and Browne's acute ear for a hook and a thoughtful, intelligent lyric. "Late For the Sky" exemplifies these descriptions perfectly. In many ways it is the archetypal Jackson Browne album.


1. Late For The Sky
2. Fountain Of Sorrow
3. Farther On
4. The Late Show
5. The Road And The Sky
6. For A Dancer
7. Walking Slow
8. Before The Deluge

The title track is simply lovely, mournful yet uplifting at the same time, backed by a stately piano and those great lyrics and gently addictive hooks. "Fountain Of Sorrow" sees Browne going slightly upbeat - a lovely country-ish rock song, underpinned by a beautiful bass line, some Billy Joel-influenced piano and the usual killer guitar half way through. Browne's voice is so laid-back and relaxing, you just want to sit down with him and have a sincere conversation over a coffee. Browne deals with complex issues in his songs, it is very much AOR - life, love, loss, death, the state of the world, philosophical thoughts. He is an intelligent man and his songs certainly reflect that.

"Farther On" is a piano/slide guitar reflective ballad, and "The Late Show" continues in the same vein, but a bit more "full band", with a strong drum sound, although still delivered in the same slow, solid mode. Just the you are beginning to think that Jackson couldn't rock out, he does with the lively, barroom rock of "The Road And the Sky", which is a pulsating, uplifting number. Just what was needed, actually, as it was all getting a little too intense and serious. "For A Dance" is a return to the yearning, sad ambience. It is a lovely, touching song, however, with some evocative violin at the end.

"Walking Slow" is an upbeat, guitar-driven rocker. Browne does these numbers as effortlessly as he does the ballads. He has a real feel for these mid-tempo AOR-style rock songs. Freeway driving music. It always sounds so invigorating. On these albums, though, Browne always ends with a classic. Here it is the wonderful "Before The Deluge". "The brave and crazy wings of youth.." sings Browne, "let the music keep our spirits high...let the buildings keep our children dry..." he continues. It is just a great song. Its ecological message delivered so beautifully, quietly yet powerfully. It has a great guitar/violin fade out too. Thoroughly mature music. One of his best songs of all time. From one of his best albums.


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