Lives In the Balance
During the ‘80s, Jackson Browne’s political conscience played a bigger role in his songwriting. Distressed by the economic shifts he saw occurring around him and the jingoism that left true patriots behind, Browne wrote his own anthems. On the beckoning opening cut, “For America,” his rock ‘n’ roll takes on a patriotic gait as it pines for a better world. Browne doesn’t mince words. “Soldier of Plenty” stretches his lyrical reach beyond the intensely personal songs he made his name with in the ‘70s. “In the Shape of a Heart” evokes the romantic Browne of old with a few telling images, but the title track makes it clear that Browne the citizen is taking a stand against war profiteering and the ruling class. Best are songs like “Candy,” “Lawless Avenues,” and “Black and White,” where Browne addresses a world that’s growing colder and testing people’s resolve to remain true to their core beliefs. The sounds are as electric as ever, reaching toward the fringes of hard rock, yet Browne’s sense of melody ensures that the songs keep their pop currency.