Black Rose (Expanded CD Reissue)
John David Souther
Omnivore Records 2016
Review by David Bowling
John David Souther’s, (or JD Souther if you prefer), name appears on dozens and probably hundreds of albums, usually as a songwriter. Best known for co-writing such Eagles classics as “Best Of My Love,” “New Kid In Town,” and “Heartache Tonight,” his compositions have been recorded by a variety of musicians such as Hugh Masekela,, Brooks & Dunn, Raul Malo, Trisha Yearwood, Dixie Chicks,, Bonnie Raitt, and particularly Linda Ronstadt who has recorded ten of his compositions.
His solo albums have never brought him the commercial success he has achieved as a songwriter. Nevertheless his albums are well-crafted and polished pop. He has a fine voice and while it may not be as distinctive as that of James Taylor, it is close.
Omnivore Records has now resurrected the first three releases in his solo catalogue as expanded CD editions.
Black Rose, released in 1976 was his second solo album. He had just finished a stint as part of the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band and incorporates some of their country rock influences into his smooth pop approach. He also called in a number of favors as David Crosby, Kenny Edwards, Glenn Frey, Art Garfunkel, Lowell George, Andrew Gold, Don Henley, Linda Ronstadt, and Don Henley all contribute their talents to the album.
Two songs that are now connected to Ronstadt are highlights. His “Simple Man Simple Dream” is a simple presentation of a song Ronstadt would take to another level. “Faithless Love” is a delicate song of loss that is enhanced by his laid-back vocal.
“Midnight Prowl” tells a dark tale that is emblematic of the story songs that inhabit the album. “Banging My Head Against The Moon,” “Your Turn Now,” “Baby Come Home,” and the enigmatic title song are all examples of his wonderful way with words that led to his induction into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.
The best of the seven bonus tracks is a live version of “Faithless Love” recorded when he was the opening act for the Eagles and Lowell George’s slightly weird “Cheek To Cheek.”
Black Rose is a consummate singer/songwriter album from a bygone era. It has a nice smooth pace and remains one the highlights of his career.