J.D. Souther: Home by Dawn

JDSouther_HomeByDawn2Souther’s sole 1980s album reissued with four bonus tracks

After breaking in as part of the Los Angeles scene of the 1970s, Souther retreated from the record racks, releasing only a pair of singles and this lone 1984 album between 1979 and 2008. These mid-80s sessions were helmed by Nashville songwriter and producer David Malloy, with a mid-80s studio sound that would soon establish itself on the country charts – though not for Souther, whose album only lightly brushed the bottom rung of Billboard’s Top 200. It’s not for want of good original material, touching vocals (including an appearance by Linda Ronstadt on “Say You Will”) and a timely popped-collar video. Apparently Warner Brothers didn’t know how to market the album, despite the title track having some resonance with the then-current hit “Footloose.”

That said, the album’s aged reasonably well, with songs and performances that outweigh the period sound. Souther had been listening to a lot of rockabilly prior to making this album, and you can hear the 50s influences beneath the layers of production and digital studio effects. Among the bonus tracks added to Omnivore’s 2016 reissue is a demo of “I’ll Take Care of You” whose vocal is more restrained, yet more impassioned than the album take. Also included is Souther’s duet with Linda Ronstadt on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack’s “Hearts Against the Wind,” and the unreleased session tracks “Little Girl Blue” and “Girls All Over the World.” The bonuses make for a nice upgrade, and sweeten an often overlooked Souther album. [©2016 Hyperbolium]

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