Jackson Browne is an excellent songwriter and this double tribute album, co-produced by Tamara Saviano, Jimmy LaFave and Scott Crago, presents a selection of wonderful songs from across his career. The song "Everywhere I go" by Bonnie Raitt and David Lindley (both long-term friends and collaborators of Browne) was released a couple of weeks ago as a taster for the album and it is a terrific track that highlights the song beautifully with both artists coming together but still retaining their own sound and voices to impose their own personalities on the song. The track got me excited and made me really look forward to the release of the album.
However, unfortunately the record suffers from the classic tribute album problem that the majority of the covers sound just too much like the originals. This isn't helped by the fact that many of the artists are California-based associates of Jackson - Don Henley, Keb' Mo', J.D. Southerner etc. There aren't any bad tracks here, these are all great songs and they are all very well sung, played and produced but the majority are just too close to Jackson's own versions - Lyle Lovett sounds exactly like Jackson on his two songs. I just longed to hear a punk version, or someone like Tom Waits deconstructing one of the songs and only Lucinda Williams comes close to this with her distinctive world-weary delivery of "The Pretender" making it sound like one of her own songs rather than one of Jackson's. I did quite enjoy the covers from Marc Cohn, Bruce Hornsby and Shawn Colvin - who's solo performance at least sounded different to the majority of tracks - but in the end the Raitt/Lindley track is far and away the best cover here.