Although Jimmy Buffett has written story-songs before, he prefaces an interest in writing real fiction in his songs on Somewhere Over China, and he shows himself with book in hand on the back cover, printing a quote from William Faulkner below it. "If I Could Just Get It on Paper" reflects this ambition, but also acknowledges how hard that is to do. Buffett also aspires to travel, as ever, and even farther than in the past, not only to China, as the title song reveals, but even into space. That said, returning is still a big issue for the author of "Come Monday," who is no longer struggling with getting back from the road to a loved one, but instead is sneaking back home and wandering around like a ghost in "I Heard I Was in Town." Like all of his post-"Margaritaville" output, Somewhere Over China is an uneven collection with a few good songs that confirm Buffett's talent as a songwriter remains when he chooses to exercise it and not just settle for something he or one of his backup bandmembers comes up with on the fly.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann