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John David Souther

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Album Review

John David Souther was among the first artists signed to David Geffen's Asylum Records imprint, joining the likes of other SoCal talents Judee Sill, Jackson Browne, David Blue, Jo Jo Gunne and the Eagles. Souther's on-again/off-again collaborations with fellow Detroit, MI native Glenn Frey began when the pair formed a folk duo called the Longbranch Pennywhistle. Their sole outing is definitely worth finding as it boasted contributions from the likes of James Burton (guitar), Ry Cooder (guitar), Doug Kershaw (fiddle), Jim Gordon (drums), Larry Knechtel (keyboards), and Joe Osborn (bass). For Souther's 1972 debut, the singer/songwriter enlists the aid of not only his one-time partner Frey, but also a few other notable names consisting of Ned Doheny (guitar), Gib Guilbeau (fiddle), former Things to Come member Bryan Garofalo (bass), and soon-to-be-session musician extraordinaire Gary Mallaber (drums). John David Souther (1972) bears the same earthy Southwestern textures that are inextricably linked to the roots of the country/rock subgenre. Unlike the Appalachian and blues influence of Charlie Daniels, Marshall Tucker Band, or Lynyrd Skynyrd, a considerably deeper influence emerged within Souther's ten original compositions. "The Fast One" commences with a midtempo rocker that bears the sonic stamp of Guilbeau's unmistakable fiddling. "Run Like a Thief" follows with a prime example of Souther's often underrated lyrical capacity. He draws upon sacred themes during "Jesus in 3/4 Time" with a feel that isn't too far removed from the Gram Parsons-era Byrds. "Kite Woman" is a love song for codependents, reiterating an understated craftsmanship within Souther's wordplay as he reflects on one whose "got you strung-out somewhere down the line." "Some People Call It Music" is marked by some superlative string work from Souther and Doheny, with the former's harmonies practically predicting the compact, rural vocals that the Eagles would adopt in fairly short order. Joel Tepp (harmonica) — whose recent résumé listed a guest shot on Crazy Horse's Loose (1971) and the Buffalo Nickel Jug Band's eponymous LP — provides a few greasy harp licks to the blues-fuelled "White Wing." The palpable loneliness of "It's the Same" and the concluding "Lullaby" are countered by the rocker "How Long." Although the latter title was initially issued by Souther as a single from this album, it resurfaced some 36 years later on the Eagles' reunion studio platter Long Road out of Eden (2007). It would become a Grammy award winner for them under the "Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal" category. The nod reinforced an already prolific collaboration between Souther and the combo, as he supplied several key LP cuts for them during the '70s, including co-writing "Doolin-Dalton,""You Never Cry Like a Lover," "James Dean," "The Best of My Love," "New Kid in Town," "Victim of Love," "Heartache Tonight," "Teenage Jail," and "The Sad Café."

John David Souther, John David Souther
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