The Sleeping Giant of Nashville has fully awakened on his seventh LP, and a commercial C&W monster is born. The keys: spare, immaculately mixed pedal steel and acoustic guitar tracks, a resonant Texas conviction in his voice, and a casual aloofness that has earned the respect of country's elites and outlaws.
No Allman joy here, though three-fourths of the band are ex-Brothers. On this debut LP, similarities to the Brothers' sound (shuffling beat, ringing guitar-piano tandems) are more in evidence than differences. Unburdened of Gregg's slurring and anguished baying, their songs seem indistinct without him. There is a slick, low-intensity safeness at work.
Benson's guitar solos often cook here, but when he gets stifled by trite, bland disco adornments, the pilot light goes out. For Benson fans who don't want their jazz to sound like elevator music, there's his live In Concert—Carnegie Hall album.
Worth the trip. Superbly supported by studio pros, Harris' sweet, sapling voice draws its strength from an affecting quaver both in ballads and rockabilly. Her sound, as Woody Allen once described himself, is "thin but fun."
These British space-rockers assail man's descent into a "valley of steel." Then they sacrifice all melodic life—as we know it—to gadget-dependent studio precision.
Glowing with invention through rock, pop and folk forms, the 11 tunes reflect the members' delicate romantic tribulations of last year but do so tastefully. Even more difficult, they've come back with a satisfying follow-up to their four-million selling gem, Fleetwood Mac.
The creamily buoyant voice of the moribund Moody Blues is alive and still lushly homogenized. Hayward has even dubbed in wife and daughter on Raised on Love—move over, Paul and Linda. Songwriter should appease Moodies' fans in their fourth year of waiting for a reunion.