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Album Review: Close Circle by Jeff Larson
  by: JoeS - Springfield, PA
started: 11/07/14 8:00 pm | updated: 11/07/14 8:00 pm
Close Circle is the 10th studio album by the singer/songwriter Jeff Larson. The sound is subtle with soaring vocals, with multiple layers of instruments, with stunning harmonies and interesting changes of tempo. The topics are mature, yet not overly heavy. The style is hard to pin down. Is it folk, folk-rock, country, americana? You can hear themes of southern California, of the desert, of the beach, nothing urban here. I own 7 of Jeff's albums and I am at amiss to understand why he isn't more well known.

The artists who appear on this album speak volumes about the quality of the artist and his creation. With Jeff Pevar (James Taylor, Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Crosby, Stills & Nash) on 6 & 12 string, lap steel, dobro guitars; Hank Linderman (America, Beach Boys) on bass and lead acoustic guitars; and Dave Nachmanoff (America, Al Stewart, The Pogues, Alison Krauss) on lead acoustic. The guitar sounds on this album are some of the most intricate and ear pleasing you'll ever hear. The harmonies are supplied by Jeddrah (daughter of Timothy B. Schmit), Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley (America), and Randell Kirsch (The Beach Boys, Roger McGuinn, Stephen Bishop). The sound is so sweet, the mix so rich, the range so tight, it is a chorus with a single voice.

Fine guitar work by Jeff Pevar coupled with Jeff's soaring vocals and moving lyrics make “Rescue Me” a fine primer. The Eagles come to mind when I hear the second track “Following The Echoes.” The harmonies are multilayered, the diversity of the strings and the tempo changes capture my imagination with colorful imagery.

My favorite is both the 3rd and final track. It was so nice they did it twice, one with an electric the other with an acoustic guitar. “Every Hour On The Hour” is uptempo with a rousing chorus and bridge. There are surprising melodic changes in the pace of the song. The haunting harmonies supplied by Jeddrah are mesmerizingly beautiful. The hook is addicting, 'It took some time to fly away, as far as they may see.' I prefer the final version. Dave Nachmanoff's acoustic gutiar is riveting, soaked with emotion, truly another voice.

Songs are like paintings in that you can see or hear what you want. I understand that “Goodbye Ocean Street Beaches” is a song Jeff wrote about his daughter going off to college. I hear the loss of something beautiful, but not a tragic loss, a painful change. Jeff's voice is so clear it rings like crystal. It echoes and reverbs from ear to ear and back again

I have to mention, “Rain Soaked Cloud.” If you are a fan of the Laurel Canyon sound this tune can become an ear worm. It has America written all over it because Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell play, sing and collaborated on the composition. Love won and lost is a constant theme of America. Deep and wide acoustic guitars, exceptional harmonies and a ringing Wurlitzer usher you through this song about love gone bad.

Trying to reconnect with a long-lost friend is the theme behind “Arizona Again.” 'Said I'd catch you in the end, like a long-lost friend, like a long-lost friend' is the chorus the heavenly voice of Jeddrah retorts. There are some brief pauses and piano interludes that are just captivating in their simplicity yet compelling in helping to convey the message.

Looking for some music to digest on a country road or a tense ride home in traffic, think about Jeff Larson's Close Circle. It isn't a game changer but, it is a smile maker!

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