Released in 1991, After Awhile stripped back the traditional country backings from Jimmie Dale Gilmore's music and let the subtle textures of his lyrics shine through, and the result was one of Gilmore's finest recordings. After the critical success of After Awhile, Emory Gordy, Jr., a top-shelf Nashville producer and session musician, was assigned to work on Gilmore's follow-up, Spinning Around the Sun, and his approach seemed to be to follow the subtle and scaled-back sound of After Awhile, but make it more polished and listener-friendly at the same time. If that seems a little confusing, Spinning Around the Sun for the most part sounds like a labor of love to honor Gilmore's work while making it more accessible (especially to the country marketplace). While the cover of "I Was the One" and "Reunion," a duet with Lucinda Williams, sound as if they were crafted with country radio in mind, most of the album mimics After Awhile's relaxed but thoughtful sound, though the surfaces shine with Music City perfection rather than the more intimate and soulful attack of Gilmore's Austin, TX, compatriots. Ultimately, the bigger problem is that the material on Spinning Around the Sun just isn't as interesting; Gilmore only penned four of the album's songs, and while the rest of the material is solid, there are too many tunes that are beautiful but unremarkable, and beyond a near-definitive reworking of Butch Hancock's "Just a Wave, Not the Water," very little of this connects with the force of Gilmore's best work. Spinning Around the Sun is an album of many beautiful moments that never quite coheres into a fully satisfying whole.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming
feat: Lucinda Williams