Jimmy Buffett

Take the Weather With You

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After a brief dalliance with contemporary country on 2004's License to Chill, Jimmy Buffett returns to his tried-and-true Caribbean pop with Take the Weather With You, and if anybody familiar with the Crowded House tune that lends its title to this thought that it would be Jimmy Buffett's move toward subtle, tasteful tunes, just doesn't know Buffett all that well. If anything, Take the Weather With You leans even more heavily on the cheerfully silly pseudo-novelties that have been his stock in trade since at least "Cheeseburger in Paradise," if not longer. Titles like "Cinco de Mayo in Memphis" and "Reggabilly Hill" are a pretty clear tip-off to that, and there's more where these came from: even such seemingly straight-ahead songs like "Elvis Presley Blues" bring the yucks, too, and this whole record has an air of frivolity that is not uncommon for Buffett, but the sheer magnitude of mirth here is a little disarming, particularly coming on the heels of such relatively recent, low-key adventures as License to Chill or Don't Stop the Carnival. Not that Buffett shies away from the big issues: he tackles the chaos that terrorism has wrought in the 21st century and he confronts the alienation of the digital world, but he does them under the guise of "Party at the End of the World" and "Everybody's on the Phone," two sunny joke-laden larks that suggests that the best thing to do is just relax and party. There's some merit to such an argument, since it's better in times of stress to ease tension than to stoke it, but in order to get with Buffett's party you have to share Buffett's attitude -- in other words, if you're not already a Parrothead, Weather With You is not the album to win you over, since it is pure, unadulterated Jimmy Buffett, containing everything his fans love about him and everything his detractors hate. There are plenty of things that will grate on the those who have little patience for Buffett's easy-rolling music and corny jokes -- performances so laid-back they verge on lazy, puns and obvious quips are abundant -- but these are the things that appeal to his fans, and these traits are heard at their peak on Take the Weather With You. There are plenty of songs that are directly pitched to Buffett's longtime fans -- songs about turning into grandparents, songs about watching college football on the weekend, songs about how things are so different now than they were back then -- and they're not just delivered with casual charm, they're catchy and well-written too, so it's not just a strong album by Buffett's standards, but one of his better latter-day efforts. Apart from the title track, there is nothing unexpected here -- and that's unexpected not only because it's a left-field choice for Buffett, but because it's performed with a grace and subtlety the song deserves -- but after a contemporary country album, that's exactly what his fans want, and they're bound to be pleased by Take the Weather With You, which captures Jimmy Buffett in his full beach bum glory.

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