Better than his rep
Note to all the Parrothead haters out there: Jimmy Buffett is a damn good singer and a strong songwriter, and remains capable of turning out a solid album. His latest release is a solid mix of country-western, Caribbean folk and '70s-styled rock.
While music snobs delight in trashing Buffett as a no-talent purveyer of drunken hedonism, the music on his new album belies that smear. Mark Knopfler, for example, is notoriously picky regarding with whom he plays and their collaboration on Knopfler's "Whoop de Doo" is a gem. Buffett has covered singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester throughout his career, and "Nothin' But a Breeze" is a strong addition to that string. Merle Haggard's "Silver Wings" manages to stay true to its trad country roots even with a steel drum behind it. And anyone covering songs by alt-country heroes like Guy Clark("Cinco de Mayo in Memphis") and Gillian Welch ("Elvis Presley Blues") has a pretty hip attitude toward the music. Heck, there's even a Finn Brothers song covered here ("Weather With You").
Buffett also wrote or co-wrote four new songs. Nothing classic, but pleasant, likeable songs all, with "Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On" the strongest of them.
True enough, everything here has a light-hearted sense of fun here Buffett isn't one to take himself too seriously, and there is always a party to find. But where is it written that only serious, heavy music has value?
This is a strong collection of new songs, and so while Buffett's live show will undoubtedly continue to feature his old hits and standards that his fans expect, there is plenty of quality new material here to keep his performances from turning into a nostalgia tour.
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