Download: J.D. Souther – NoiseTrade Sampler EP (2012)

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If you know J.D. Souther, one of the 1970s’ unjustly overlooked country-rock svengalis, it’s likely as a collaborator with the Eagles. That was him, working as cowriter on “Heartache Tonight,” “Best of My Love,” “New Kid in Town” and “Victim of Love.”

It’s easy, then, to enter into NoiseTrade Sampler — a new EP available for download now — with a certain set of country-rocking expectations. Tracks like “In My Arms Tonight” and “Faithless Love,” with their sweetly constructed lyrics and reverie-filled vocals, sound like what J.D. Souther has always sounded like — what you’re happy, in some respects, to hear him sounding like all over again.

Yet for all of the comfy sense of familiarity that brings, If the World Was You quickly discards such things, and that’s the strength of the set.

“House of Pride,” powered by a stamping back-pew gumption, looks back with a knowing eye at the mistakes of youth. The Latin-tinged horns and galloping rhythms of “The Border Guard” deftly avoid country-rock conventions. Then there’s the boozy menace of “The Secret Handshake of Fate,” which only plays at languid uncaringness; there’s a sense of boiling rage, the whole time, just beneath its lazy beat. “These things happen,” he admits, with a sharp edge, “and then they happen — again and again.”

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: 2011’s ‘Natural History’ made it clear that J.D. Souther did more than sketch out the emotional landscape for country-rock in the 1970s: He set the template.]

“Go Ahead and Rain” finds the guy who sang “Only The Lonely” (a No. 7 U.S. solo hit in 1979) later that night, trying to connect from a much a darker place. In a voice both fragile and open, Souther ultimately discovers a deeper empathy for the hurt he sees reflected back in another’s eyes. The humid and mysterious “Journey down the Nile” then finishes NoiseTrade Sampler inside a Mediterranean night’s unfathomable embrace.

Each of the seven tracks here has been previously issued by Souther: “House of Pride,” “In My Arms Tonight,” “The Border Guard” and “The Secret Handshake Of Fate” appeared on 2008’s If the World Was You; the live version of “Journey Down the Nile” was part of 2009’s Rain; and “Go Ahead and Rain” and “Faithless Love” are from 2011’s Natural History.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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