Beautiful Loser winds up sounding more like Back in '72 than its immediate predecessor, Seven, largely because Bob Seger threaded reflective ballads and mid-tempo laments back into his hard-driving rock. He doesn't shy away from it, either, opening with the lovely title track. And why shouldn't he? These ballads were as much a part of his success as his storming rockers, since his sentimental streak seemed all the more genuine when contrasted with the rockers. If anything, Beautiful Loser might err a little bit in favor of reflection, with much of the album devoted to introspective, confessional mid-tempo cuts. There are a couple of exceptions to the rule, of course -- "Katmandu" roars with humor, and his cover of "Nutbush City Limits" shames Tina Turner's original -- but they are the only full-throttle rockers here, with "Black Night" coming in as a funky, swaggering cousin. It's the exact opposite of Seven, in other words, and in its own way, it's just as satisfying. Occasionally, it might be a little too sentimental for some tastes, but it's all heartfelt and he's written some terrific songs here, most notably the album's heart of "Jody Girl" and "Travelin' Man." Seger had started turning inward, searching his soul in a way he hadn't since the since-disowned Brand New Morning, and in doing so, he was setting the stage for his first genuine blockbuster.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine