Songs From St. Somewhere
Jimmy Buffett is back in his usual high-functioning drinking style on his 29th studio album, Songs From St. Somewhere.
A loose island wankawanka slithering beat fuels the opener, “Somethin’ Bout A Boat,” while a softer and lyrically witty “Einstein Was a Surfer” follows. Things get louder and all-drums a’rolling on the story song, “Earl’s Dead – Cadillac For Sale,” and even slightly rockin’, I’d dare say, as Buffett duets with Toby Keith on the silly excuse to just jam, “Too Drunk To Karaoke.”
What amazes me on lots of these 16 songs is the multiple writers on songs that really are pretty basic (not that that means they aren’t solidly written pieces). I feel Buffett is most effective though when he either writes the songs here himself (or just with one collaborator) as he does on the dangerous, quick, acoustic swirl of “Useless But Important Information,” the reggae fun of “I’m No Russian” or the sly slink of “Tides.” When he covers one writer, as he does on Mark Knopfler’s “Oldest Surfer On the Beach” (with Knopfler’s guitar backing). He kicks the vocals well out of the park (or off the beach, in Buffett’s case) on the tender Will Kimbrough’s “Soulfully” and tackles Jesse Winchester’s sad song, “I Wave Bye Bye.”
Buffett’s not breaking any new ground here, but his voice sounds as good as ever, his Coral Reefer Band is spectacular behind him and in the cases where the songwriters are kept to but a few, with or without Buffett, Songs From St. Somewhere really does indeed come from somewhere.