River was a looser and rootsier affair than Terry Reid's first records, taken from a sprawl of sessions in London and California that generated enough material for several albums. The very looseness that gives the effort some charm is the same quality, however, that keeps it from being a major work. The songs mostly sound unfinished, as if they're friendly jams in which Reid and the musicians (including, most notably, David Lindley on half the album and percussionist Willie Bobo on the title track) are working out some song ideas or twisting around some riffs. It often brings to mind those parts of songs where the likes of Van Morrison, Tim Buckley, or Robert Plant sing-scat improvised-sounding vocal passages. The difference is that, for the most part, those singers used such sections to embellish solid songs. On River, the quasi-stream-of-consciousness vocal ramblings are the songs. The first four of the seven songs are very much in a funky, laid-back blues-rock groove, prominently featuring Lindley on steel, slide, and electric guitars. Reid, and the album itself, really begin to find more of an individual voice on "River," where beguiling Latin-Brazilian elements are introduced in the guitar, melody, and rhythm. The final two cuts, "Dream" and "Milestones," back Reid's vocals only with acoustic guitar, and have a romantic melancholy that likewise makes them highlights of this highly personal but uneven record.
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger