Jackson Browne Michael Watts - Essay

Michael Watts

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["Jackson Browne" is Browne's] first album, and it's good; so good, in fact, that it establishes him not just as a versatile songwriter but as an artist of major stature. For a debut album Browne could not have wished to achieve a more profound impact. Broadly speaking, his songs are romantic, heart-in-the-mouth affairs, but structured with such subtlety, earnestness and intensity of feeling that their cumulative effect is rather like a return to innocence…. On an album which is uniformly gorgeous there are several stand-outs. "Jamaica Say You Will" opens the first side and also encapsulates the form of his writing…. The song embodies his compositional approach in that the emphasis is on writing a song through the first person singular and his fondness is for straightforward narration; he keeps his lines very uncluttered, eschewing obscurantist tendencies. Thus "Song for Adam" is about two friends who finally go their separate ways until one day the narrator learns that his boyhood buddy is dead. Again, the story-line is beautifully clear, the effect wistful and moving…. Altogether, "Jackson Browne" should do for Jackson Browne a whole lot more than "Neil Young" did for Neil Young. If it's not this album, it will be the next. But it should be this one.

Michael Watts, "Do Say Browne," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), March 25, 1972, p. 15.