Jimmy Buffett

Songs from St. Somewhere

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Jimmy Buffett never fails to give the Parrotheads what they want, varying his sound just enough to keep things interesting for him without making his fans scurry away. In the new millennium, this often meant that Buffett catered to the country crowd that came his way after Alan Jackson brought him in to sing "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" -- Kenny Chesney co-opted Jimmy's breezy Caribbean country-rock not much later -- but on his albums of the 2000s, he often pursued a songwriterly direction, either covering other skilled writers (as he did on the charming 2006 set Take the Weather with You) or writing his own tunes (the relatively lean 2009 LP Buffet Hotel). In the grand scheme of things, these albums were subtle affairs. That's not the case with 2013's Songs from St. Somewhere. Shamelessly silly and boisterously boozy, Songs from St. Somewhere flirts with self-parody and sometimes slips into pure tackiness. Surely, some of the bad taste is intentional -- he brought in Toby Keith to sing "Too Drunk to Karaoke" for a reason and he winkingly rhymes "Twitter" with a vulgarity on "Useless But Important Information" -- but when he makes a jocular offhand reference to Pussy Riot's incarceration on "I'm No Russian," his crassness grates. A good portion of Songs from St. Somewhere is amiably aimless -- Buffett is better off when he's mellow, picking out odes to boats, beach, surfers, and sun -- with the only thing threatening to spoil the mood being the words themselves. As he sings his decidedly silly songs, Buffett often comes across as the uncle who has had one too many margaritas at a family cookout and, if you've tied one on along with him, that's perfectly fine. But if you're listening to this sober, it's quite likely you'll be more inclined to cringe than to smile.

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