Timothy B. Schmit

Expando

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Timothy B. Schmit launched his solo career late -- in 1984, after the Eagles disbanded and right in the thick of the era of shiny, synthesized production. Schmit released three solo albums, all big and glossy, between 1984 and 1991, then reunited with the Eagles in 1994, so he never quite had a chance to record an album as relaxed and natural as 2009's Expando. Ditching all the sheen, but not the professional panache, that lingered all the way to 2001's Feed the Fire, Schmit returns to his country and folk-rock roots here, creating a record that has a clear through-line from his early days with Poco, bears echoes of early Crosby, Stills & Nash -- a resemblance underscored by Graham Nash's occasional guest harmonies and the howling harmonica on "A Good Day" -- and clearly is the work of the soft rock songsmith behind "I Can't Tell You Why." As beguiling as this record sounds -- it's soft and warm without feeling slick, anchored in acoustic guitars and graced with sweet harmonies, peaking with the appearance of the Blind Boys of Alabama on "Secular Praise" -- what resonates is his strongest-ever collection of songs, songs that are tuneful, knowing, reflective, and occasionally funny, as on his tongue-and-cheek blues-rocker "White Boy from Sacramento," a showcase for his guitarist son Ben. This loud slice of satire is the exception to the rule on Expando, but this soft rock never feels lazy or complacent; it's rich and lived-in, a record that might have been a long time in coming but is certainly worth the wait.

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