My brother loves this record. At first I didn’t have a clue why. American Beauty sounded too much like an imitation of Crosby, Stills & Nash (maybe not & Young).
Of course it didn’t help that Grateful Dead sounded completely different on Live/Dead, where they were the ultimate jam band. And now they’re doing this soft folky countryrock-thing? What the heck? Everyone is allowed to change styles of course, but it made the CSN-impression harder.
However, there are some nice tunes to be found here, and actually it’s quite an enjoyable album. The harmonies are less striking than with CSN and that can be a good thing. The singer has a pretty voice and the melodies are catchy. What marks this album is its simplicity: every song is quite calm (but different from the others) and finished. No fringy details, no sound effects, just plain good songs, Box of Rain, Friend of the Devil, Operator, Ripple and Truckin’ being the highlights.
The big mystery of this album is the song Attics Of My Life. Why on earth they decided to put a boring stinker as this on the album (as if creating it wasn’t bad enough) is beyond my intelligence.
The term that’s made for this album is “lovely”. Maybe my appreciation for this album doesn’t go beyond liking it, but there are definitely worse things to spend your time with.
(Het best: Box of Rain, Friend of the Devil, Operator, Ripple, Truckin’)