Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Jackson Browne - Standing In The Breach (2014)

If I could be anywhere....


Released October 2014

Although Jackson Browne's voice now sounds considerably older, the old magic is still there, both lyrically and melodically on this impressive album.


1. The Birds Of St. Marks
2. Yeah Yeah
3. The Long Way Around
4. Leaving Winslow
5. If I Could Be Anywhere
6. You Know The Night
7. Walls And Doors
8. Which Side?
9. Standing In The Breach
10. Here                                        

The Birds Of St. Marks is a typical Jackson Browne rocker but with Searchers/Byrds-style jangly guitar augmenting the already addictive melody. Yeah Yeah appropriates The Velvet Underground's Sweet Jane riff on a most appealing song. It is full of atmosphere and has a great vocal from Browne. It is just a great song. He still comes up with quality material, despite the ageing voice. The Long Way Around is a deliciously shuffling, observational song with Browne's voice sounding mournfully nostalgic. Leaving Winslow references the town mentioned in Take It Easy all those years ago. It is an appropriately lively slice of country rock. If I Could Be Anywhere, for once, doesn't quite do it for me, having an odd rhythmic arrangement. It is ok, and grows on you, but its melody lacks cohesion, for me. Its extended instrumental fade out, though, wins me over.

You Know The Night is a Mark Knopfler-esque acoustic and electric guitar, country/folk rock number. There are, as with many more recent Jackson Browne songs, considerable Paul Simon influences in both the lyrics and the vocal delivery. Walls And Doors is very reminiscent of some of Bruce Springsteen's later material. It is both plaintive and upliftingly anthemic. Which Side? has lots of echoes of Bob Dylan's You Gotta Serve Somebody. It asks the old "which side are you on" question in no uncertain terms. The title track, Standing In The Breach is an appealing, piano-driven ballad expressing ecological and political concerns quite beautifully. Jackson Browne has always been an honest sincere man, and songs like this show that so well. The guitar kicks in near the end before the vocal comes back, it is just perfection. A truly excellent song.

Here is a gentle, mid-pace rock ballad to end on. Yet again, this has been a most invigorating listen. Jackson Browne keeps coming up with excellent albums, even now, every few years or so. He really is a most underrated artist who has given years of pleasure for well over forty years now.


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