“Songwriting is a mysterious thing”, says Jackson Browne. “Sometimes it feels a bit like consulting the oracle”.
Take a listen to “Downhill From Everywhere”, Browne’s 1st new album in 6 years, and you might begin to suspect that he’s speaking quite literally.
Though the songs here were recorded prior to the tumultuous events of the past year, the collection feels remarkably prescient, grappling with truth and justice, respect and dignity, doubt and longing, all while maintaining a defiant sense of optimism that seems tailor made for these turbulent times.
Like much of Browne’s illustrious catalog, “Downhill From Everywhere” is fueled by a search, for connection, for purpose, for self, but there’s a heightened sense of urgency written between the lines, a recognition of the sand slipping through the hourglass that elevates the stakes at every turn. “Time rolling away, time like a river, time like a train”, he sings. “Time like a fuse burning shorter every day”. And while such ruminations might suggest a meditation on aging and mortality from a rock icon in his early 70’s, the truth is that Browne isn’t looking in the mirror, he’s singing about us, about a world fast approaching a social, political, and environmental point of no return. Clean air, fresh water, racial equity, democracy, it’s all on the line, and nothing is assured.
“I see the writing on the wall”, says Browne. “I know there’s only so much time left in my life. But I now have an amazing, beautiful grandson, and I feel more acutely than ever the responsibility to leave him a world that’s inhabitable”.
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