Herman Wouk's novel Don't Stop the Carnival -- a tale of a frustrated middle-aged man who dreams of escaping the city for tropical paradise -- is the ideal literary vehicle for Jimmy Buffett, a man who made a living selling suburbanites the tropical dream. Buffett convinced Wouk to collaborate with him on a musical adaptation of the novel, which had a brief run in Miami in 1997. To stir up interest in the project, Buffett recorded 20 songs from the show with his Coral Reefer Band. Truth be told, there's little difference between these songs and any other Jimmy Buffett album, but it's actually heartening to hear him craft songs to fit a story. There are a few other vocalists, including narration from Wouk, sprinkled throughout the album, but Don't Stop the Carnival remains a Buffett album, filled with the breezy melodies and laid-back charm that distinguishes all of his work. If anything, the record holds together better than many of his latter-day efforts because he has something new to say, and he has written his strongest set of songs in many a moon.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine