Blue Sky Riders

Finally Home

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Initially, it's hard not to think of Blue Sky Riders as a Kenny Loggins project, as he's the one member of the trio who has considerable success under his own name. As it turns out, that's not the case at all. Blue Sky Riders is a genuine partnership, with Loggins happily collaborating with Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman, two singer/songwriters with a track record of country hits (and who just happen to be engaged). This isn't a collaboration that came out of nowhere: Burr and Loggins wrote together for the latter's 2008 album How About Now, discovering they had an easy, natural chemistry that's also apparent on Blue Sky Riders' 2013 debut, Finally Home. Pitched halfway between Loggins' folkier side -- at times the album is reminiscent of his earliest records with Jim Messina -- and the assured contemporary country-pop coming out of Nashville, Finally Home is amiable and tuneful, the sound of professionals enjoying their craft. At times, this does mean the trio gets a little cutesy in its high concepts -- building songs around the catch phrases "How's That Workin' for Ya," "I Get It," and "You're Not the Boss of Me" -- but such clever conceits aren't distracting because they arrive wrapped in sweet tunefulness and casual charm. Clearly, Loggins, Burr, and Middleman enjoy each other's company, trading lead vocals with ease, dabbling in a bunch of different styles, flirting with Celtic music on "Feelin' Brave," indulging in densely produced '80s soft rock on "Dream" and a bit of modern pop on "Say I Like It." Mostly, the music is very much grounded in the sound of hazily sensitive '70s singer/songwriters, a form that suits both Loggins and Burr, even if the latter was too late to capitalize on the boom. It's all comfortable, it's all easy, yet it's not lazy: it's the sound of old pros playing for the love of it once again, and it's hard not to smile along with their enthusiasm.

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