Jackson Browne

In the Shape of a Heart

Song Review by Mike DeGagne

Amidst Jackson Browne's outward discontent of America's right-wing veering and the effects of Reaganomics, 1986's Lives in the Balance also contained one of Browne's most endearing and personal songs with "Shape of a Heart." Although failing to break the Top 40, "Shape of a Heart" dealt with Browne's self-analysis concerning his temper and his shaky relationship with actress Daryl Hannah at the time. With Browne's love life in the spotlight, his voice throughout the song stretches outward, with bitterness replaced by his trademarked placid vocal tones. His personal introspection comes through in vivid fashion during the chorus philosophical lyrics, and instead of singing about problems on a global scale, he turns "Shape of a Heart" into a song based on a more intimate subject. Browne maintains a certain empathetic sincereness that is created without utilizing the traditional ballad-like form, and the song is helped along musically by a sound rhythm and a positive tempo, taking away any indications of self-pity. "Shape of a Heart" revealed that Jackson Browne's passion for expressing his opinions weren't solely politically based, and that his writing could express the same amount of passion when matters of a different sort were concerned.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Lives in the Balance 1986 Asylum 5:41
The Next Voice You Hear: The Best of Jackson Browne 1997 Elektra 5:41
The Pretender/Running on Empty/Lives in The Balance [Box] 2001 WEA International 5:41
The Very Best of Jackson Browne 2004 Rhino / Elektra 5:47
Solo Acoustic, Vol. 2 2008 Inside Recordings 6:45