Jackson Browne — Downhill From Everywhere
This latest release in six years from Jackson Browne confirms that he is a true master of his art. What his fans and detractors have come to expect from him are on full display with this release. His vocals, musicianship, songwriting, and productions skills, along with his awareness of the human and environmental conditions and the political climate of the day continues on from his 15 previous releases without sounding stale.
What makes this release different though, is his reflection on his and our own mortality and what we have accomplished and what we have yet to accomplish in the limited time we have on this world. As, with any of his releases, it invokes thought and introspection not only about the world we live in but in and of ourselves and our place in it.
Songs such as “Still Looking For Something” is a ballad reflecting back on life and still trying to find out who we are and where we fit into life moving forward. “My Cleveland Heart” is a rocker that imagines if we could replace our normal heart with an artificial one so that the pains and frailties of our human heart could be overcome.
“A Human Touch” a beautiful yet haunting duet with Leslie Mendelson that describes the loneliness of discrimination. “Love Is Love” a Caribbean themed song which takes place on some far away island in which French Creole is integrated into the lyrics and addresses how we as people treat each other and the hope of a better future in the face of an ugly past and present.
“Downhill From Everywhere,” the title track, is a Bob Dylan style production that portrays how far we still need to go in humanitarian, environmental, and political ideology. “The Dreamer” a Spanish themed story partially sung in Spanish of an immigrant and the journey and fears of making it to the United States with the dreams of making a better life for oneself. Drawn from personal experience.
“A Little Soon To Say” is about self-introspection and reflecting back on our lives on what have we done, what are we doing, what are we going to do, and holding out hope that the world will be a better place in the future. We just don’t know.
Other tracks include: “Minutes To Downtown,” “Until Justice Is Real,” and “A Song For Barcelona” which honors Barcelona, Spain and the diversity of the city where he has a part time residency.
The 10 track 50 minute and 12 second album is a masterpiece and each song is a painting that only Browne could paint by creating an emotion with both word and sound.
The album is produced and is written or co-written by Browne and recorded at various studios where he feels the colors and soul of an album are created using his handpicked accompanying artists (and co-writers) as the paintbrush.
Browne who carries the majority of vocals along with piano, acoustic and electric guitars and vihuela, is complimented by the talents of Val McCallum on vocals, electric, acoustic, and tenor guitars, Greg Leisz on acoustic and electric guitars and lap and pedal steel, Bob Glaub on bass, Mauricio Lewak on drums, Pete Thomas on drums, Russ Kunkel on drums, Mark Goldenberg on electric guitar, Jason Crosby on piano, Jeff Young on Hammond organ, Jay Bellerose on drums, Jennifer Condos on bass, Patrick Warren on keyboards, Waddy Wachtel on electric guitar, Raul Rodriguez on a palmas, and vocals by Chavonne Stewart, Aletha Mills, Leslie Mendelson, and DeAnte Duckett. They are the paint that brings the painting to life.
The CD itself is basic but has some wonderful cover art. The front cover, a haunting picture of abandoned ships on shore taken by Edward Burtynsky’s from his “Shipbreaking” series. Inside photos by Nels Israelson depict a seaside environment and poignant photos of Browne. It also comes with a wonderful booklet with Israelson pictures, song lyrics with translations of the Creole and Spanish verses, and complete artist listing for each track.
Browne may not be able to solve the world’s problems with this album but, it sure gives that ideology the impetus and hope by enlightening us so we can do it before it’s too late. If, we only listen.
Downhill From Everywhere can be found at: Amazon, Target, all digital streaming sites, and https://shop.jacksonbrowne.com/