Picks and Pans Review: Travel-Log

updated 02/12/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/12/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

J.J Cale

It has been five years since Cale, the quirky singer-songwriter, last put out a record. But sample any 10 seconds of Travel-Log at random and you'll know immediately that it's the same old J.J.

His dreamy, blowsy, half-speed boogie style and indolent vocal delivery are that distinctive. On this album his weakest moments come when he adopts a country accent, making songs like "Shanghaid" sound like something Jim ("Spiders and Snakes") Stafford might have done. The Cale-enetics in the best shape are straightforward rockers such as "Hold on, Baby" and "Who's Talking," the shuffling "No Time," "River Boat Song" and "That Kind of Thing," or the bluesy creeps of "End of the Line" and "Humdinger."

Even at Cale's best moments the mood is loose and casual, bordering on sloppy. You may find yourself tempted to wish that Cale had invited someone into the studio to sharpen up the guitar solos—particularly on the songs with faster tempos. Someone like, say, Mark Knopfler, whose gauzy voice actually resembles Cale's in a higher register.

But, naaah; Cale is one of those artists, like Lou Reed or Bob Dylan, whose very flaws make him interesting. (Jive/Silvertone)

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