Gilbert O'Sullivan never departed from the whimsical template he minted with his 1971 debut, Himself: he merely spent the following decades finding variations on his playful post-McCartney pop. After his hits dried up -- in the U.S., that happened after 1973, but he was a mainstay on the U.K. charts until 1975, popping up for a final time in 1980 with "Down, Down, Down" -- his albums were largely modest affairs, which is why 2018's Gilbert O'Sullivan is so striking. Working with a name producer for the first time in eons -- it's Ethan Johns, who has previously worked with Robyn Hitchcock, Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon, Tom Jones, and Paul McCartney himself -- Gilbert doesn't try anything new on this self-titled album, but his execution is the best it's been since his popular peak. It's not simply that Johns' production is tasteful and warm, it's that the producer steers O'Sullivan toward sanding away many of his cutesy tendencies, the kind of thing that kept Himself and Back to Front a shade mischievous. Without that impishness, Gilbert O'Sullivan sounds age-appropriate -- as tuneful as ever, still sporting that cheerful wink, but comfortable in his skin. For anybody who's harbored affection for O'Sullivan, this ease makes the album hard to resist.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine