David Wilcox’s Airstream consists of songs played by Wilcox alone on his acoustic guitar, accompanying his solo voice. Although the tracks sound professionally recorded (as they were, albeit in his Airstream trailer), it may be supposed that they were intended originally to serve as guides for sessions with other musicians to be held in a recording studio. That would be standard operating procedure for Wilcox, who -- although he tours playing by himself -- usually records folk-rock arrangements on his solo studio albums. There have been nine of those before Airstream, plus a couple of live albums, a couple of compilations, and a duo album of poetry set to music with his wife, Nance Pettit. Having reached the age of 50, Wilcox is a veteran singer/songwriter by now, and he may have decided that it's the songs that count, and that he may as well present them as people are going to hear them on the road. Leaving aside the novelty of the solo presentation, the songs are a fairly typical bunch for him. There's a tender song of enduring love for his wife ("Forever Now"), a song for his now teenaged son ("This Old Car"), several songs using nature imagery to reflect on the nature of love, and a few topical songs that sound like what any thoughtful, liberal Christian American might think of the state of politics, circa 2007-2008. "Falling for It" is Wilcox's straightforward attack on President George W. Bush for using the fear following 9/11 to invade and occupy Iraq. "Reaper Sweepstakes" is a more sarcastic and general look at the challenges facing the country and its citizens. And "Three Brothers" is an allegorical treatment of the troubles in the Middle East. None of this will sound unusual to a fan who heard Wilcox's last album, Vista, or any of his others, for that matter. He remains a man trying to translate his personal experiences and his impressions of world events into well-crafted songs and succeeding most of the time, if never really transcending his sources of inspiration to say something more profound as, for instance, Bob Dylan often does. By that standard, of course, most singer/songwriters come up short, and Wilcox remains worth hearing, especially on an album when he speaks in so direct and unadorned a manner.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann