Singer/songwriter J.D. Souther played a key, if somewhat behind-the-scenes, role in the rise of Southern California country rock in the early 1970s. He was a running mate of Glen Frey's before the latter became a founding member of the Eagles, which made hits out of a number of songs co-written by Souther, including "Heartache Tonight" and "New Kid in Town." He also worked closely with Linda Ronstadt, writing such tunes as "Prisoner in Disguise" and "Faithless Love" for her and producing her 1973 classic Don't Cry Now. He briefly teamed with Richie Furay and Chris Hillman in the Souther Hillman Furay Band and subsequently recorded several solo albums, then essentially retired from performance. But he continued writing for a wide array of artists ranging from India.Arie to the Dixie Chicks and Warren Zevon. This solo tour was precipitated by the release of his first album in nearly a quarter century. If the World Was You (Slow Curve) finds his high tenor voice and storytelling ability in prime form. Stylistically, it's an equal blend of classic country rock and a variety of adeptly handled jazz idioms, including Afro-Cuban, New Orleans piano, and bop. Jersey native April Smith, who opens, says her sound suggests the Beatles fronted by the Andrews Sisters. Classic pop of different vintages, including a kind of fragmented cabaret, does inform her music, which she can blast with a big brassy voice, wade through via fractured R&B, or even croon with surprisingly delicate touches.
Sun., Nov. 23, 7:30 p.m., 2008
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