John Denver

Seasons of the Heart

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The albums of successful confessional singer/songwriters tend to be like yearly Christmas letters from friends, and John Denver -- or at least, the "I" in his songs -- wants to tell his pen pals that he's been to the Far East since they last heard from him. That's the dateline of "Shanghai Breezes," which he sings from "old Shanghai" and of "Heart to Heart," which finds him in "old Hong Kong." In other news, he is breaking up with his wife, or so it seems, from the title track, though romantic breakup is, according to the singer, just one of the seasons of the heart. Throughout the songs, Denver adopts an "on the one hand on the other hand" philosophy, evenly accepting the tendencies of all kinds of people in his overall theme of universal harmony. Even Jesse Winchester, whose song "Nothing But a Breeze" gets covered, fits into the theme with his reflections on the varying predilections of different folks. Denver doesn't sound quite as comfortable with the differences as Winchester, however, never achieving the same tone of amused self-deprecation in his own weightier, more ambitious songs. Those songs retain a folk simplicity despite the light pop style of the arrangements, and Denver's reedy voice sounds as sure of itself as ever, even when the lyrics seem to equivocate. The album was welcomed by Denver's gradually shrinking loyal audience, which made "Shanghai Breezes" a soft rock radio winner, though it barely made the Top 40; Seasons of the Heart was Denver's last to go gold.

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