Friday, 28 December 2018

Jackson Browne - For Everyman (1973)


  

Released October 1973

This was Jackson Browne's second album and, while it still had a bit of a "work in progress" feel about it (in comparison to the more finished feel of his subsequent work), it is an album which shows his progression. He was an artist who wrote great songs and was looking for a sound to hang them on to, so to speak, and here he managed it a bit more confidently than he did on the bleak-ish debut album. It was a mixture of some catchy country, guitar-driven rock numbers and thoughtful, melodic slow ballads, plus one extended, grandiose narrative, philosophical, lyrically pertinent number to end with (something that became a tradition on future albums). He really is such a good lyricist, but on these early albums the sound is somewhat austere and tentative in places, not as confident as it would become by, say, 1976's "The Pretender". Therefore the album just doesn't quite tick all the boxes. Not quite, but almost. It is still a good album.

TRACK LISTING

1. Take It Easy
2. Our Lady Of The Well
3. Colors of The Sun
4. I Thought I Was A Child
5. These Days
6. Redneck Friend
7. The Times You've Come
8. Ready Or Not
9. Sing My Songs To Me
10. For Everyman

"Take It Easy" does not quite have the appeal and catchy country rock pizazz of 1972's Eagles hit version of the song, it seems a bit undercooked in comparison. "Our Lady Of The Well" is a mournful song, with a nice, laid-back melodic backing and that sad Browne vocal that we would be so familiar with in years to come. It is a beautiful, sensitive song. Nicely sung and nicely played with a lovely Mexican-style guitar break near the end. "Colors Of The Sun" is a brooding, bassy slow tempo number with a haunting vocal. Again, the backing is appealing. "I Thought I Was A Child" ups the pace somewhat, when it kicks in, but it is actually covered more convincingly by Bonnie Raitt on her "Takin' My Time" album. It features a delicious acoustic guitar solo followed by some bass/piano interplay though. It is a great song too, it has to be said. Typical Jackson Browne in its sensitivity and phrasing.

"These Days" is a slow, evocative and moving number with some fetching slide guitar backing. It is another lovely song. "Redneck Friend" sees Jackson really rocking for the first time on this album, something he doesn't always do enough. Whenever he does, it's always good, with a trademark high-pitched guitar sound. "The Times You've Come" is a plaintive acoustic number that gets a bit muscular half way through, but retains its intrinsic sadness throughout in Browne's vocal delivery.

"Ready Or Not" is a tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted number about Browne and his wife expecting a child. Beneath the wry humour it has a mid-pace infectious melody and an impressive mid-song guitar solo. "Sing My Songs To Me" is a laid-back, slow tempo rock ballad, with sumptuous guitar and gentle piano backing. It has airs of Paul McCartney about it, for me, just in a few places. The title track, "For Everyman" is one of those big, meaningful lengthy numbers to finish the album, like "Before The Deluge" or "The Pretender". Yes, there were better albums to come, but this one is getting there.

B-

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