Solo Acoustic, Vol. 2

Jackson Browne

Inside Music, 2008

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Jackson Browne has released 16 albums during his 36 year career, which led to his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2004.

Solo Acoustic, Vol. 1, released in 2005, was a good idea that worked. The songs for that album were recorded live by Browne during the years prior to the album’s release. Alternating between piano and acoustic guitar and with no one else on stage, Browne presented a selection of songs from various parts of his long career. Solo Acoustic, Vol. 1 was a commercial and critical success and was nominated for a Grammy award. Recognizing a good thing, Jackson Browne has returned in 2008 with Solo Acoustic, Vol. 2.

In many ways, this disc my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 is an extension of the first volume. The in-concert approach is the same on both albums and they could have been released as one two-disc set.

The songs are many times slightly extended versions of the originals, which is unusual for a song stripped down to its basics. His choice of material is again excellent and career spanning and each song flows effortlessly from one to the next.

Browne’s well-known hit song “Somebody’s Baby” is representative of what is contained here. The song is instantly recognizable, yet without the backing instruments and vocal overdubbing of the original, there are subtle differences. The simplicity of the presentation allows the listener to enjoy the subtle textures and mood changes that are lost on the original rock version.

“Never Again” is a wise choice to lead off the album. This song finds Jackson Browne in fine vocal form in his 60th year. His guitar playing, while not in a league with an Eric Clapton, remains competent. The soothing, mellow vocal approach places an emphasis upon Browne’s lyrics, which have always been an underrated but ultimately strong point of his music, and it is the lyrics that are the highlight of this album.

The twelve songs meander and flow and ultimately cast a spell. “Enough Of Night” is a wonderful song of lounging and past times, while “Something Fine” is a song about forever which lasts about a week. Browne plays piano on “Sky Blue and Black” which places the emphasis squarely on the message of loss and hope. Meanwhile, the spontaneity of “Redneck Friend” finds Browne stretching himself musically as he translates this mid-tempo rocker within the framework a solo artist format.

The production is crisp and clear and Browne comes across as relaxed as he relates to and chats with his audience. It would have been nice to have had the lyrics included, but that is a minor complaint.

Solo Acoustic, Vol. 2 is an interesting and soothing album. The format seems to fit the 21st century Jackson Browne well. I don’t know how many of these acoustic albums Jackson Browne will release before a sense of sameness sets in, but for now all is well.

Rating: B+

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