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John David Souther

Home by Dawn – 2016 (Omnivore)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by John David Souther

J. D. (John David) Souther is best known to the masses for his hit "You're Only Lonely." He enjoyed another hit, a duet with James Taylor, "Her Town Too." Despite his talent as a singer, his greatest critical success has come as a songwriter, co-writing "Best of My Love, "Heartache Tonight" and "New Kid In Town" for the Eagles. Linda Ronstadt covered 10 of his compositions, and the list goes on. Along the way he was recording his own albums. though they failed to create as much interest as the covers of his music did. Three Souther releases are the subject of a reissue effort, including this 1984 release, his fourth overall.

Older fans of country music often moan that today's "country" music is nothing but pop. The only thing country about it is the John Deere tractors they include in the videos. A fair amount of the rock-pop music on the '70s and '80s was often regarded as a close cousin of country music. Many local country bands playing the club circuits would include songs from The Eagles, Ricky Nelson, Elvis and Credence Clearwater Revival. Souther's only 1980s album reflected a country leaning, using producer David Malloy, who also produced albums for Eddie Rabbitt and Reba McEntire. The title cut, "Home By Dawn," has a driving, rockabilly sound while "I'll Take Care of You," covered in 1998 by the Dixie Chicks, is a ballad reminiscent of "You're Only Lonely." The bonus tracks include his Ronstadt duet from "Urban Cowboy," "Hearts Against the Wind" and a jazzy "Girls All Over The World."

While Souther's success as an artist is more limited than his songwriting hits, it's not for want of ability. His music is good listening and hopefully these reissues will create a new interest in his music.