Release Date: May 31, 2011
Record label: Entertainment One Music
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Soft Rock, Jazz-Rock
J.D. Souther returned to record making after nearly 25 years with 2008's If the World Was You, a collection of jazzy originals. Three years later, he issues Natural History, consisting of new recordings of 11 of his most valuable copyrights, songs associated with the Eagles ("Best of My Love," "New Kid in Town") and Linda Ronstadt ("Prisoner in Disguise," "Faithless Love"), as well as his own sole hit as a recording artist, "You're Only Lonely." That's the "history" part of the title; the "natural" part refers to the arrangements, which are spare, usually featuring a prominent piano or acoustic guitar part with only quiet acoustic bass and drums (if any), and, sometimes, a trumpet, saxophone, or clarinet solo.
Composer of hits for the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and others, Souther is the archetypal LA songwriter: catchy, wistful but erring towards the insipid. This freshly recorded selection of his songs presents the Eagles' "Best of My Love", Ronstadt's "Faithless Love" and more in stripped-down form, albeit flossed and glossed by elite sessioneers. Souther sings in a mid-70s croon, tuneful but grain-free and, for a man inspired by Roy Orbison, oddly unemotional.
Back in college, I had a roommate named Dave who was engaged to a girl from out of state. On the day he decided to try LSD for the first time, his fiancée called him on the phone to break up. She didn’t offer an explanation. She just said, “Listen to the Eagles’ ‘Best of My Love’.” It was a trite song full of sappy clichés that provided no insight.
Old songs, newly recorded, many of which are fine indeed. Andrew Mueller 2011 Natural History is the second stirring of a long-postponed comeback by Souther, following 2009’s If the World Was You – the first new work the Eagles associate had issued in 25 years. Souther had not been entirely idle during that interregnum, doing bits and pieces of acting, and writing for other singers (Dixie Chicks, George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, among others).