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Music Review: Jimmy Buffett – ‘Songs from St. Somewhere’

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Jimmy Buffett always sounds like Jimmy Buffett. If you think that is a good thing, you will enjoy and appreciate Songs from St. Somewhere. If you somehow expect him to be something different decades into his career, then you will be disappointed.

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That said, Songs from St. Somewhere should feel to Buffett fans like a visit from an old and beloved friend. His voice is not particularly strong, but then it never has been. He’s not the best or most-skilled singer with phenomenal range. He’s a storyteller and a man who knows how to communicate to his audience with honesty and humor and a very human touch. Buffett fans listen because the music makes them feel good, like sunshine on a tropical beach or hanging out with your buddies in a bar.

On this album, you get the traditional silly drinking song, this time in a duet with Toby Keith, “Too Drunk to Karaoke.” It’s just a fun song, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

You also get the tall tale with eccentric characters, ” Earl’s Dead – Cadillac for Sale,” and the song that reflects Buffett’s current stage in the life cycle, “Oldest Surfer on the Beach.”

There’s an ode to Neil Armstrong, “The Rocket that Grandpa Rode,” which will be nostalgic for those of us who remember the glory of the early days of the space race, although most kids weren’t in school in July and that may be a trick of an older man’s memory. According to the press release, the song was born when Buffett was invited to Kennedy Space Center in 2011 to witness the last launch of the Shuttle. He rode the bus with Armstrong’s son and grandchildren and that  inspired the song.

There’s the ode to an exotic place, “I Want to Go Back to Cartagena,” with a bonus Spanish version with Fanny Lu. There’s a song about a boat, simply titled “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Boat.” Then there’s a sweet and sensitive love song, “Soulfully,” which may surprise listeners who don’t remember “Come Monday,”  which for many of us was the first Buffett song we ever heard.

So Songs from St. Somewhere is going to be a treat for those fans who just want to hear Buffett be himself. For new listeners, it may take listening to some of the earlier stuff first, or seeing a concert, or at least hanging out with some Parrotheads to really get acclimated and ready to accept this offering for what it is. Just our friend, stepping in to share some stories and songs and a laugh or two.

About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.