John Stewart

Wingless Angels

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A minor disappointment after its more consistent predecessor, 1973's Cannons in the Rain, John Stewart's 1975 album Wingless Angels enjoys an excellent Los Angeles production by Nik Venet, leading a studio full of A-list session musicians like drummers Russ Kunkel and Ronald Tutt, bassist Joe Osborn, pedal steel guitarist Dan Dugmore, and guitarist Robert Wachtel. In fact, the sound of the record makes it seem like there's more substance to the songs than there is. Stewart has come in with a bunch of Western sketches, full of rural imagery and references to horses and Western states, and the songs have good choruses that are repeated endlessly. Stewart sings them sonorously over the excellent arrangements. But many of the songs are no more than collections of poetic words without being about much of anything, as if Stewart hadn't found the time to flesh out his ideas and finish them. As a result, Wingless Angels is an album that makes more of an impression the less carefully it is listened to.