John Howard

As I Was Saying

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John Howard's career was essentially finished until RPM unearthed his "Goodbye Suzie" for a various-artists compilation called Zigzag: 20 Junkshop Soft Rock Singles 1970-1974. From there, his albums slowly were reissued, all to greater attention and sales figures, and his career was essentially revived -- all paving the way for a return to recording, first heard on Dangerous Hours, but 2005's As I Was Saying was his true comeback, a collection of new songs written and recorded in a fashion similar to Kid in a Big World. Howard acknowledges as much with the very title of As I Was Saying, admitting that the album picks up where he left off, and the remarkable thing about the album is how it completes strands left hanging from his '70s work. Apart from the cleaner and crisper modern production, this could easily be mistaken for a lost album from the '70s (and RPM's reissues proved he had far more of those than any listener would have ever expected), not just because this is luxurious songwriterly pop in the vein of Elton John, Paul McCartney, and early Al Stewart. It's that Howard's writing is as strong as it was in the '70s -- clever, if somewhat cloying, in his lyrics and graceful in his melodies, whether he's campily bouncing along on "The Dilemma of the Homosapien"; dialing down glam to its melodic essentials as he does on his Bowie salute, "Dear Glitterheart"; or sweetly riding a sentimental nostalgic waves as he does on "These Fifty Years." These qualities make As I Was Saying quite a lovely comeback: Howard is clearly an older songwriter, and has become more sentimental with time, but instead of turning him saccharine, it has given him a warm, hazy glow appropriate for his sweet melodicism, which has not diminished over time. It may not have the shock of the new the way that discovering Kid in a Big World did, but it's a quiet, understated gem of a comeback all the same, sure to please those who fell in love with him whether in 1973 or 2003.

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