Herb Pedersen

Southwest

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Like many other members of the Californian country and folk scenes, by the time 1976 rolled around Herb Pedersen had succumbed to the peaceful, easy breezes blowing out of LA, something that his 1976 debut, Southwest, thoroughly reflects. Produced by Mike Post, the composer best known for his award-winning television themes, perhaps it's not a surprise that there's more than a bit of studio polish on this collection, a feeling accentuated by the sterling set of supporting musicians: David Lindley, Larry Carlton, Jim Gordon, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris all make appearances. By and large, Pedersen avoids the bluegrass -- toward the end of the record, he covers Bill Monroe's "Can't You Hear Me Callin'," the lone moment that feels like a string-band throwback -- and specializes in a mellow, sun-kissed country-rock on Southwest. At times, there's either a hint of twang or high lonesome strumming in the arrangements -- and early on, the progressive cover of the Beatles' "Paperback Writer" and "Rock & Roll Cajun" are deceptively fuzz-toned -- but the defining characteristic of this record is its supple softness, best showcased in the sparkling "The Hey Boys," the lushly orchestrated "Harvest Home," and "Jesus Once Again," the latter a propulsive piece of soft-rock pop that should've been a hit.

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