Far from the arms of hunger....
Released September 2008
Released six years after the previous album, this is, in comparison with Jackson Browne's albums either side of this one, quite a low-key offering, with quiet vocals, soothing backing and a general feeling of ageing resignation. (Browne is now white-bearded). It has, for me, a sad feeling about it. Browne is still trying to make sense of the world and wondering about the future. It is a political album more than a "relationships" one, but not in a fist-pumping way. Many have criticised Browne for supposedly saying the same things over and over again in this songs. I have never subscribed to that view. I always find him intelligent, sensitive and worth listening to, on any of his albums, from whatever era.
1. Time The Conqueror
2. Off To Wonderland
3. The Drums of War
4. The Arms Of Night
5. Where Were You?
6. Going Down To Cuba
7. Giving That Heaven Away
8. Live Nude Cabaret
9. Just Say Yeah
10. Far From The Arms Of Hunger
Time The Conqueror has an understated, melodious guitar riff and a bit of a lo-fi sound to it. It is nowhere near as "big production" as the previous few albums. The end part with the whispered female backing vocals is sad, evocative and somewhat gently mournful. Browne is reflective about the passing of time. Off To Wonderland is another with an appealing, laid-back effortless backing riff and wise, but slightly tired, tender vocals. A lovely organ break near the end sees the track out. The Drums Of War is a solid rocker with strong backing vocals and convincing vocals. It is the album's most "rock" track with some industrial guitar driving it on. The pace and mood tones down for the next track, the plaintive, tranquil The Arms Of Night. We get some Dire Straits-ish guitar and some touches of "world music" percussion in the middle bit. It just sort of drifts along quietly, though, but in a good way.
Where Were You? is a mysterious, brooding buzzy guitar-driven Paul Simon meets U2 robust, lyrically cynical and questioning number. The guitar parts are quite captivating. It lasts a lengthy nine minutes. The U2-style buzz riff never gives up and, together with some great bass and haunting piano, keeps the song interesting. Probably the best cut on the album. Going Down To Cuba evokes Paul Simon once again with its gentle vocal delivery, wistful lyrics and subtle rhythms. Giving That Heaven Away is an acoustic and fetching number with echoes of Bruce Springsteen's later era material. Lovely guitar and organ swirling gently around on here. It is simply a most pleasurable number that I can't help but like.
Live Nude Cabaret is even more laid-back and sleepy in a Sting-like way. Once more, it features some sumptuous quiet guitar. Just Say Yeah ups the tempo slightly, with a delicious, typically Jackson Browne mid-tempo soft rocker. The organ and guitar backing are as engaging as on most of his album's tracks. The soft tone continues on the closer, Far From The Arms Of Hunger, which is positively Brothers In Arms in its sleepiness and again, very Sting in its nonchalant, meditative vocal.
The whole album is laconically beautiful. Thanks to Jackson Browne just for existing and putting out such uplifting music year after year.