I found the 2014 album “Standing in the Breach” by Jackson Browne ultimately relaxing in tone. It is characterized as a pop album, although I feel that it leaned more towards the country/ folk side. The guitar combined with light drums and deep, soft voice of Browne creates an atmosphere of an easy-going lifestyle in the face of trauma, heart break, and destruction in a changing world. The songs on this album investigate many troubling and personal aspects of life, such as relationships between lovers and world disasters, such as oil spills. They serve as a reflection of Browne’s discontent with the state of the world, but his determination to live through it. Browne is most known for his work in the 1970’s, however, he continues to produce music now while into his 60’s, still possessing the same vocal abilities and activist nature.
The first song, the Birds of St.Marks was not unknown to his fans. He first played it in the 1960’s and played throughout many of his concerts, but did not record it on any of his albums until this point. For this reason, this song has evolved through the years and has had a lot of work put in to it. I find it to be one of the best off the album. It is supposedly about Nico who was a female revolutionist in the 60’s, and who he believed had been too encompassed by a life of fame and fortune, and had therefore become lonely in her popularity. This song is sad in nature, but the melody I find to be somewhat comforting, as Browne states that he must “call back all the birds I sent to fly behind her castle walls”. Despite that he is weary over the fact that he must let her go, his knowledge of what he needs to do is inspiring, as we can not all chase after things forever.
Many of Browne’s songs possess similar melodies with a similar structure: repeated, short, riffs that incorporate only a few guitar chords and a few drum beats, followed by a short uplift in beat and intensity, only to return to the slow, basic pattern once again. Overall, despite that the melodies are enjoyable, I find that they are too repetitive. There is not much differentiation in the songs or between songs. However, this flaw is probably one of the only one’s I can discover.The lyrics on this album are touching, comforting, and inspiring, if that’s the kind of music you’re looking for, and despite his age his abilities as a performer have not visibly diminished.
Long Way Gone, the third song off the album, struck me deeply. In this song, he reflects on the state of the world as it is different from decades ago. As a man of 66, he has clearly seen tragedies as well as happy experiences. But now, he feels that things are heading more towards the former. As a child, he was care free, which most of us can relate to, but now as the world is changing to a more destructive place, he feels that he is “a long way gone” from where he used to be. Everyone can relate to this confusion and lost feeling that he discusses. Despite the tragedies, such as oil spills and gun control, he witnesses, he is at peace with his life, stating that this wild road will still “take me where i’m bound, but it’s a long way around.” I found this song extremely comforting and relatable.
Standing in the Breach, the song endowed with the album name, reflects on the unfairness of life: poor and rich, sick and healthy, etc. However, he believes that love “redeems us”,
Overall, this album truly shows Browne’s activist colors, but in a modern world rather than his 60’s development.