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Easy listening but ultimately unsatisfying
on 17 August 2011
Ah, the covers album, the ready-made refuge for writer's block.
After a surprisingly upbeat return to form with 2007's "Here and Now" this comes as something of a disappointment. Not too many complaints about the choice of songs, but this project cried out for some daring arrangements and some innovative production. Instead, everything is "America"-nised with the result that much of the spirit of the originals is lost, subsumed into that all-too-familiar lush, cosy trademark sound that sometimes becomes stifling.
Some of these songs just don't suit Gerry Beckley's saccharine voice, and the loss of authenticity is only heightened by his unconvincing delivery of the line "I am a Geordie Boy" on Mark Knopfler's "Sailing To Philadelphia".
The tracks on which Dewey Bunnell sings lead generally fare better, although you never really feel that the duo have added anything meaningful to what we already know. "Woodstock" owes more to the Matthews Southern Comfort version than either CSNY's or indeed Joni Mitchell's original, while "On The Way Home" faithfully recreates Buffalo Springfield's classic song note for note, without ever getting close to the spirit of that era. And all the protest and injustice has been stripped from Dylan's "My Back Pages" , leaving a rather unsatisfying version that skates uncomfortably close to karaoke.
These guys can rock when they want to, but there's no sign of that here on a largely one-paced album which would have benefitted from a couple of more aggresive tunes.
New material please, next time.