J.D. Souther’s debut solo album could (at least the argument is there) be looked at as the “lost Eagles album” – between the debut and the more countrified Desperado. But it isn’t; it’s a fine, sublime beginning from this most lauded and respected of songwriters/musicians. Having first worked with Glenn Frey in Longbranch/Pennywhistle and then going on to write with The Eagles and play with Linda Ronstadt, Souther’s career has been one melodic journey after the other and this 1972 initial bow is a perfect jump off.
Starting off, quite rightly, with “The Fast One”, an uptempo “new” country (as it was sometimes known) track, you hear the trademark tunesmanship Souther quickly became known for; clean bendy licks and catchy, it’s an excellent way to open an album; “Run Like A Thief” is a sweetly, soft narrative and “Kite Woman”, it has to be said, sounds like The Eagles – and I would venture a guess that Glenn Frey is singing the harmonies – regardless, it’s an absolute high point. “Some People Call It Music” has a delicious groove; “How Long” is the obvious “rock” track and the other “lost Eagles” track (it was, in fact, done by them live in the ’70’s and finally recorded for Long Road Out Of Eden) – why this was never a hit is, yet again, a mystery. “Out To Sea” has an opening that sounds like the direct point of origin for “Best Of My Love” (which Souther co-wrote) but is far more introspective and deeper and “Lullaby” is a stripped-down and exquisite closer that features just Souther’s warm vocal and tastefully finger-picked guitar.
If I’ve drawn a lot of Eagles parallels, it’s difficult because they were so entwined with one another and Souther’s contributions cannot be understated. But taken as an entity unto itself – as it should be, J.D. Souther is, without question, one of the finest albums of that period. And we can all be thankful to the good people at Omnivore Recordings for once again giving a new life to a very important piece of work, with bonus tracks and remastering. And more than that, we can be thankful that J.D. Souther has been writing the kinds of songs he has been for more than four decades.
J.D. Souther is available now