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Jimmy Buffett

License to Chill – 2004 (RCA)

Reviewed by Rick Teverbaugh

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CDs by Jimmy Buffett

Inspiration sometimes comes from some mighty unusual places. Jimmy Buffett seems to have found his among the more familiar voices in country music. Not that Buffett and country are recent bedfellows. The journalism graduate had more than a few steel guitar flourishes on his early albums and many country stars have mentioned the Buffett lifestyle by name or open reference over the past few years.

So a disc that about half solo Buffett and half collaborative efforts with country superstars not only is a small leap of logic but it seems also a sure-fire winner. The disc already is off to a commercial success riding the crest of Hank Williams' "Hey Good Lookin'," which brings Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith and George Strait into the mix.

Before the 16 tracks are finished, each of those stars takes a duet turn with Buffett as does Martina McBride, Nanci Griffith and Bill Withers. There's some cute wordplays to be found in the title cut, "Peace of Work" and "Conky Tonkin'," but what really is impressive about this collection is that the solo Buffett material is as good or better than anything he's done on his own in a half dozen years. "Simply Complicated" is fluffy nonsense that only Buffett could make work while "Coastal Confessions" and "Window on the World" underscore that there's a lot of insight in the serious side of his music. Guy Clark's "Boats to Build" is a wonderful addition and stands up better than anything else on the disc.