1973, Music

For Everyman (1973) by Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne is one of those artists I’ve heard so much about but never really heard (that I know of). He’s always been on the periphery of music I’ve listened to – guesting on many albums I’ve heard, or co-writing songs, or both – but I’ve never sat down and listened to anything of his until this very moment. I figured I knew what I was getting into, though.

Browne has a decent enough sense of melody; the most famous song here (“Take It Easy,” which he cowrote) is very, very catchy, as you know, and the rest of the songs are catchy enough. I’m not sure Browne’s lyrics standout particularly. They’re fine. They’re better than average but they don’t really connect with me for the most part. I suspect a lot of this lack of connection has to do with the thing that I don’t like about the record, the aesthetic.

The aesthetic is that of the Mellow Mafia, of course. Highly professional, very slick, very polished and never too energetic (even on the faster songs). As with most ’70s country rock/pop, the country has been polished out of this record, for the most part, unless you count the pedal steel guitar. Browne is one of innumerable ’70s American singer-songwriters who thought it would be best – and who succeeded – if they used advances in recording technology to make their sound as polished and as safe as possible. This worked out commercially for many of them but 45 years later it sounds like soft rock. It’s this aesthetic that distracts me from connecting with his songs. (It’s worth noting, too, that Browne had given some of these away. Even though I really dislike the Eagles, their version of “Take It Easy” is better – it’s more energetic. Nico’s version of “These Days” is better too. There are probably more examples. It begs the question what he was trying to prove.)

This is the kind of anemic ’70s singer-songwriter stuff I really can’t get into. But the songs seem good enough and everything is very well done. Moreover, he’s less wussy than some of his contemporaries, so that’s something.

6/10 because it’s well made, but that feels a little kind for something I didn’t enjoy

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