RCA APL 1-0101
Released: May 1973
Chart Peak: #16
Weeks Charted: 35
Certified Gold: 8/27/73
This is John Denver's best and most balanced album in a long time, and it takes its strength from the expanded emotional range that he has been side-stepping all this time. He has, in the process, expanded his subjective spectrum, which previously ranged all the way from sunny yellow to tangerine, enough to include a few more neutral shades -- taupe, tan, khaki and, yes, even a tiny smattering of gray.
Most of Denver's new material still clings to the pop-folk tradition of oversimplification, but some of the subjects he takes on are surprising. Two tunes from his old friends Fat City, "We Don't Live Here No More" and "Please, Daddy," are suprisingly glum in sentiment (though each one is relatively painlessly arranged), with the latter one sounding especially traumatose ("Please, daddy, don't get drunk this Christmas/I don't wanna see my mamma cry"). John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery" is even tougher, the album's most abrasive cut -- and, as such, it's a little ways out of Denver's vocal range, although he gives it an admirable try.
For all its lyrical peculiarities, it has a lovely melody (though this, like several other cuts here, suffers from disappointing underproduction), and it's a gripping, fascinating song for both its vocal and spiritual naivete. The writer's conception of his own woman's hysterical overreaction is almost as oddly simplistic as his idea of just what it takes to be "natural" (feathers? dulcimer?).
Denver's performance here, as on the rest of the album, is enough to render almost anything credible, no matter how strange it all may seem upon closer examination. That's what Farewell Andromeda has over so much of his previous work -- the tension is increased, the material less of a shoe-in for the style and to achieve that credibility, he's forced to push himself more that he might usually want to. Good; it's a push in the right direction.
- Janet Maslin, Rolling Stone, 8/16/73.
Singing gently but with simple conviction has been Denver's key to audience acceptance. The formula of songs about the earth and its inhabitants is used by Denver in developing a theme with mass appeal in both the pop and country fields. Denver bridges across the two vital cauldrons of creativity -- pop and country -- with a tinge of folk just to make things very American. Five of the 11 tunes are by Denver, and there is a great concentration of effort to create an outdoors type of feeling. Denver's own guitar picking is nice, but the augmented sound of other instruments is a welcome expansion of the production sound for which Milt Okun gets a fine credit. Best cuts: "River Of Love," "Sweet Misery," "We Don't Live Here No More."
- Billboard, 1973.
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