The warmth of Jonathan Richman
Verweij | Netherland | 12/17/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What can you say about Jonathan Richman ? You love him or you hate him for the same reasons : Because of his voice, because he's so earnest in writing about anything that can happen, because of his honesty which can be so sweet that it hurts in your teeth. I love the guy, but I don't like all his albums. (There's nothing wrong with that, I certainly don't like all the things I've done and I'm me!) If I like it doesn't depend on the songs but on the general sound of the album. And this album sounds great, the songs are great and the spirit is great. The only thing I didn't like was the playlenghth of the album = much too short. I'm not a rich man so I've been in doubt for some time if I would buy it. But the temptation was too great. Listen to my personal favourites Reno and especially Corner store. All the best things that Jonathan Richman and country can give you are available on this album."
Michel Farmer | Peoria Illinois | 11/10/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The first side of this album (minus since she started to ride) is kind of half baked but once you get to "You're crazy for taking the bus" the rest of the record is awesome. Who cares if half the songs on the album are covers, anything Jonathan touches becomes singularly Jonathan's. Besides his song choices are so pretty (and profound?) that who is anyone to criticize. To me this sounds just as much like a Richman album as anything else. "Neighbors", as others have noted, is the standout track...and yes it's bizzare."
Jonathan's "Nashville Skyline"
Justin St. Clair | Seattle, WA USASeattle, WA USA | 08/13/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"With this CD, Jonathan Richman embraces the country ethos, but without a trace of the urban irony one would expect in the context of his early Modern Lovers days. It includes some fun, honest originals that make it sound like Jonathan's been writing country songs all his life, as well as some heartfelt covers. There are some duds here, too, but the hilights outweigh them. The session work on this cd is also a highlight, especially the guitar work, which is both true to the country vein and blends well with Jonathan's unique style.
The opening track, "Since She Started to Ride," sets the pace well. On the surface, this is a simple song about a girl whose equestrian leanings are getting a little out of control in her boyfriend's opinion. I've always thought this also held a deeper level as well, a musing about growing apart wrapped in a goofy fable.
"Reno" follows up with it's infectuous, two-word chorus ("Reno, Reno, Reno, honey, Reno, Reno, Reno"). A great song about infantile impatience and the little city in Nevada that caters to it.
"I Must be King" is a good cover with some nice flourishes of honky-tonk piano, though the line "She and I are like brother and sister" makes my neurotic, Freudian side a little uncomfortable.
"You're Crazy for Taking the Bus" is probably my favorite song on this CD. It's a great little slice of Jonathan's simplistic philosophy. It's a great open road song, lightly shunning our jet set culture. The chorus is a great rockabilly back-and-forth that will stick in your head for days and make you laugh out of nowhere at inappropriate moments.
"Neighbors" is full of the Spanish kind of flavor Jonathan has delved into in more recent years, but I guess it fits on a country record in a Southwest kind of way. The lyrics are more Jonathan philosophy, though a little more ambiguous. Whatever it means, it's a great song with more of his comedic vocal style in full force.
The center of this CD, in my mind is the haunting cover "Man Walks Among Us." This song has more old-fashioned stylings than the other selections, but this belies the underlying sophistication of the lyrics. Images of animals scurrying from a man wandering through the desert, signaling to each other "Man walk among us, be still," are followed by the words "Soon will be gone all the deserts. Cities will cover each hill." Do the animal understand Man's destructive force better than we do? This was definitely more than I expected from a fun country detour of a CD.
"Satisfied Mind" closes the disc on a similarly subdued note, a cliched but warm and melodic cover about the falsity in our dreams of riches.
The rest range from descent to throwaways, but the CD does work as a complete listen, especially driving down the Western highways that inhabit this unique and wonderful cd."