If there’s a soft spot in your heart for the warm mellow folk-pop sounds of early 70s California, then the L.A. based singer-songwriter Jeff Larson could well fill a chamber. Close Circle is his tenth studio album (and first for NCompass) and over the past decade he’s forged a fruitful musical relationship with Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell of America, both of whom appear here on the Laurel Canyon vintage Rain Soaked Cloud (co-penned with Beckley), with Jeff Pevar on a variety of guitars and Timothy B. Schmit’s daughter, Jeddrah, on backing vocals.
It opens with Rescue Me, Larson’s laid back, easy-rolling voice prompting thoughts of the young Jackson Browne, a comparison that extends vocally and melodically to the slightly more up-tempo Following The Echoes and Goodbye Ocean Street Beaches. Given his association with the duo, it’s not surprising to find shades of America too, notably on the shimmeringly laid-back acoustic guitar and electric piano accompanied ballad Arizona and the similar desert heat vibe of the equally languid Always A Mystery featuring Pevar’s dobro.
Although the pace does pick up here and there, as with the twanged guitar notes of How Long Running (which wouldn’t sound out of place on the first Eagles albums) and the chorus swells of the ticking Every Hour On The Hour (a bonus remix of which swaps the electric guitar solo for acoustic), Larson favours mood over sweat, introducing ukulele into the soft-breathing Even When The Rain Comes and gently-swaying closing cut The Lay of the Land.
With a firmly retro soul, it’s not the sort of album to create any waves in the Americana genre, but for those tuned to its wavelength it offers a dreamily smooth ride.
Review by: Mike Davies
Released on NCompass, out now
Order via: Amazon