Batdorf & Rodney

Life Is You

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Batdorf & Rodney had some modest success with their eponymous second album, and their third record, 1975's Life Is You, built on that record's progress, charting higher and launching a modest hit with a cover of Jim Weatherly's "You Are a Song," which stayed on the charts for seven weeks, peaking at number 87. "You Are a Song" is an example of what's right with the record -- a sentimental, sweet tune draped in strings and harmonies, a pefect representation of how folk-rock turned into mellow soft rock by emphasizing the melody and the feel. The rest of the record treads the same ground but not quite as successfully, largely because the songwriting of Batdorf & Rodney isn't as consistently good as Weatherly (who contributes another standout, "To a Gentler Time"). The duo -- John Batdorf on lead vocals, Mark Rodney on lead acoustic guitar -- are very earnest and intent on writing serious material (one track is a two-piece suite which, ironically, provides one of the better melodies here). Instead of giving the record weight, it occasionally makes the record sound open-ended and meandering, particularly when the tempo is slowed down. They're better at sprightly tempos such as the terrific "Is It Love," a breezy up-tempo number that should have been a hit. There's just enough of these to keep Life Is You interesting, but the album should have been sequenced better, since the ballads wind up impeding the record's momentum just a little bit too much. Nevertheless, there are more winners than losers here, with the best moments showcasing Batdorf & Rodney as an enjoyable Californian soft rock duo who may not have been as good as Seals & Crofts, but are still offered some appealing music in the same vein.

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