Poetic. Blissful. Wonderfully arranged. Lavishly recorded. This collection of original melodies written and recorded by widely recognized singer/songwriter John Hartford is vivid and beautiful. Each tune throws in hints of creative brilliance and sincerely artistic poetic expression, much to the likings of Bob Dylan and Willy Nelson. Charming songs such as "A Simple Thing as Love" and his radio-friendly single, "Gentle on My Mind," stir the kettle of emotion, where more serious subjects are covered in the deep retrospect song "California Earthquake" and the chilling "Mouth to Mouth Resuscitation." "Mouth to Mouth" is an upbeat, vibrant tune stressing the need for a nation's rebirth, as Hartford chants, "good for the country, good for the nation." Surely it finds itself as song born for a good old time mingling among friends. The album's most deeply gripping tune is the lyrically poetic gem "I Would Not Be There," a passionate six-verse tune detailing the characteristic lives of a man visiting a Baker-street bookstore to check out a book of steamboats and cotton, he who is inspired by a fifth grade replacement schoolmistress, a man at the barracks, and Sam, hung over from drinking. The record's overall lyrical content is mystic and sharp in quality and respectfully strong in arrangement. Perfect for a morning cup of coffee and a kind of pick-me-up for a cloudy day. You can tag along with John Hartford, who never fails the listener of seeking and finding an enjoyable time. Like a day at the annual state fair, Gentle on My Mind is folk-rock music at its best during the '60s. Music that can bring together friends in times of laughter and nights of tears, this record can warm the soul, never leaving its power of nostalgia. Though the arrangements are strong, Hartford's lyrical content is not quite as cohesive and powerful as many of Dylan's or Nelson's records. Still, to give merit were it's due, his material ranks somewhat close to that pedestal of more widely loved singer/songwriters of the time.
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AllMusic Review by Shawn M. Haney