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JD Souther

If the World Was You – 2008 (Slow Curve)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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CDs by JD Souther

Whether joining Glenn Frey and Don Henley in the early days of The Eagles or as one third of Souther Hillman Furay, JD Souther's sweet tenor and influential songwriting shaped country rock. Three-plus decades later, Souther unveils a side he claims was his favorite musical influence all along. His first solo album in 25 years leaves the vocal gymnastics of country rock behind, instead favoring a jazz-blues-pop groove straight out of the '50s and '60s. Interestingly, Souther's vocals often echo Lyle Lovett, albeit backed by a jazz quintet.

The 11-song disc - all written by Souther, who also wrote Best of My Love and Heartache Tonight for The Eagles - opens with the understated jazz shuffle I'll Be Here at Closing Time. Souther finds a mellow Girl from Ipanema - like Latin vibe on the song Rain as a female trio coos in Spanish behind him, and House of Pride lays down a rockabilly beat complete with horns and a banjo assist from Bela Fleck.

While his voice and music aren't pioneering an entirely new genre as in the '70s, they clearly define just who JD Souther is musically in 2008.