Jackson Browne - Time the Conqueror

2008-12-24 09:05
Time the Conqueror
Jackson's tone was always uncomfortably unique, but encased in a straightforward frame. He was a perfectly crafted little-boy-lost. It was good ol' down-home with all the rough corners sanded smooth. It had confessional bad-man sex appeal that dragged you towards its lack of repentance. You wouldn't want to be used by the guy in his songs - you'd rather be him, in all his miserably, romantic glory.

That’s all still here, behind a more acceptable, mature veneer of Browne's continuing political left leanings (that now sometimes take the form of concerts to punt the democratic candidate along with other old hippy-day heroes). He still does the verse-chorus verse-chorus dance better than anyone out there, and even the occasionally wince-inducing protest pieces "Where Were You" and "Drums of War" beat around the George W. Bush with more lyrical daring than most similar anthems.
He's always had a conscience, which always made his poignant wrongdoing so seductive. His vocals and inflection are still a knee-weakening guilty pleasure. Tight backing ticks along to tunes that - with the fingernail-splitting exception of the unbelievably naff "Going Down to Cuba" - are at least elegantly cheesy.

What's missing now, then? Well, nothing. This is a really worthy album. Browne is sounding as good as ever.

But does anyone really want their rock 'n roll devils, no matter how suavely, to grow up, stabilise and make albums called Time the Conqueror - albums that display maturity, dignity and forethought - all those learned adult graces that come with conquering your demons? Let's face it, wrong as it is, those bad old ways of On the Road win over this good stuff.

"You take Sally, and I'll take Sue / There ain't no difference between the two / Cocaine… running all round my brain". Remember that? Yes, those were the bad old earlier days. And if this is the first you're hearing of Jackson Browne, you might want to do a little time travelling before you spin his latest.

-Jean Barker

Jackson Browne is a songwriter by the 70s book the Eagles helped write, but he's lighter on the California schmaltz and much heavier on the lyrical and vocal talent. Why isn't he more famous then? Well it's been a while since he dominated the road music airwaves, dated Darryl Hannah, supposedly worked his way through piles of drugs, and churned out regular albums - his last release is six years old.

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