Picks and Pans Review: Seasons of the Heart

updated 04/12/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/12/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

John Denver

The cover tips you off: Denver is walking into a subterranean passage, while the album title swirls by in a red curlicued typeface that has a religious look to it. (The picture is actually from Denver's 1981 trip to China.) Is Saint John the Evangelist entering the depths to lead the rest of us out of the shadows of ignorance and hate? Much of this album sounds more like sermons than songs. "If they only knew the things that I know/If they only could see the things that I see," he sings in Opposite Tables. Denver speaks Heart to Heart: "I haven't seen all there is to see/But I've seen quite a bit." In Islands he molests a metaphor: "Islands like so many dreams/Are like canyons but off the main stream." Shanghai Breezes, the album's first single, hardly transports, either: "I just can't seem to find the words I'm looking for/To say the things that I want to say." He said it, we didn't. Only Nothing but a Breeze has lyrical and rhythmic bite, and that was written by folk-rocker Jesse Winchester and is accented here by vigorous sax work from studio veteran Jim Horn. Denver is at his best crooning country-pop paeans to the wilderness and rural living. Out of that realm, the deeper he dives for meaning, the shallower the result.

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