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J.D. Souther: If the World Was You

At 62, he’s hardly the new kid in town, yet listening to John David Souther’s first recording in a quarter-century, it’s as if no time had passed since his days as one of the pioneers of the SoCal country-rock movement. Nor is it possible to miss that this is the guy behind such seminal ’70s and ’80s hits as the Eagles’ “Best of My Love” and “Heartache Tonight,” Linda Ronstadt’s “Faithless Love,” his own million-selling “You’re Only Lonely,” and his union with James Taylor on the post-divorce lament “Her Town Too.” But If the World Was You is no exercise in retro muscle flexing.

Yes, the 11 tunes are populated with the same folks-the loners, the losers, the outsiders, the romantically disaffected-who checked into Hotel California and took their rebel-rousing to the limit, but Souther speaks as strongly and eloquently to, and for, post-9/11, post-Katrina, Bush-plagued estrangement as he did for the alienated of that earlier age. From the opening barroom fantasy of “I’ll Be Here at Closing Time” to the gritty satisfaction of the 12-minute closer, “The Secret Handshake of Fate,” this is raw, gutsy storytelling at its most brutally honest and compelling.

Originally Published