Jackson Browne

Looking East

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Jackson Browne begins his most Los Angeles-oriented album standing in the Pacific Ocean "Looking East" across the country and, as usual, doing so without much approval, but with a persistent hope. After reflecting on his youth in "The Barricades of Heaven," he compares the rich and poor in "Some Bridges" and takes time out to watch a little television in "Information Wars," before considering romance in "I'm the Cat," "Culver Moon," and "Baby How Long" and childhood in "Nino." He then decides he would like to be "Alive in the World," as opposed to inside his head or "behind some wall," and declares of that world, "It Is One." Thus, listeners are taken on another of Jackson Browne's tours, which manages to travel to outer and inner space without leaving the county of Los Angeles. After 24 years of record-making, he remains puzzled by the same personal and philosophical issues, and he approaches them in the same way, alternately hopeful and pessimistic, but more often than not ending up determined to persevere. He now uses fewer words, such that the songs sometimes seem no more than sketches, and he continues to set them to loping rock rhythms played against slabs of ringing guitar with traces of world music. Here, he co-credits eight of the ten songs to his backup musicians, yet the haunting, long-line melodies remain familiar from his earlier work. But then, Looking East is a highly referential work from an artist who started where most end and has been earnestly seeking the right direction ever since. Looking East finds him in his own backyard, still searching.

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