74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
When a 28-year-old debut album is the artist's best...
, January 26, 2001
This review is from: Home Free (Audio CD)
Don't get me wrong: I'm a diehard Fogelberg fan. I last saw him in concert in 2000, the eleventh time I'd been to one of his shows. I own all his albums (except "Something Old, New, Borrowed and Some Blues" and the recent Christmas CD, which got an emphatic "Don't bother" from some friends who are equally ardent fans). I wore out the grooves on my Fogelberg albums in the 1970s learning to play guitar. But I'm also honest about someone who was for so long my musical idol: Nearly 20 albums and 30 years later, "Home Free" -- recorded in Nashville when he was a 22-year-old session man -- is arguably Fogelberg's best work.
From the first ethereal strings of "To the Morning" to the lingering ending of "The River," this album stands as a quintessential example of Fogelberg's talent. There is little artifice here, musically or lyrically. (For all their strength, albums like "Netherlands" and "The Innocent Age" sometimes nearly topple from bombast.) In the context of such a great album, it's easy to embrace clunker lines like "far too many stars have fell on me" as idiom. The production -- and bass playing -- by Norbert Putnam is outstanding (he was also doing top-notch work with Eric Andersen at the time in Nashville). And Fogelberg's voice, though not as mature as in the middle years of his career before smoking roughened it, is pristine. (Listen to the last note of "Wysteria.")
It's sad that after "The Innocent Age" in 1981 fine songs on Fogelberg albums became the exception rather than the rule. But, like all his fans, it irks me that he has been pigeon-holed by ballads like "Longer" and "Leader of the Band" and gets airtime only on easy-listening stations. Dan Fogelberg is a phenomenal talent, and I hope someday that he gets the credit he deserves. Meanwhile, I'll keep listening to classics like "Stars" and "Long Way Home" and "Looking for a Lady." For any artist, this album would be legacy enough.
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