- Released: January 23, 2001
- Label: Sbme Special Mkts.
Personnel: John Denver (vocals, 6- & 12-string guitars); Herb Pedersen (acoustic & electric guitars, banjo); James Burton (acoustic & electric guitars, dobro); Denny Brooks (acoustic guitar); Danny Wheetman (mandolin, harmonica); Jim Horn (reeds); Glen D. Hardin (keyboards); Emory Gordy, Jr. (bass); Hal Blaine (drums, percussion); Renee Armand-Horn (background vocals).
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
John Denver's music has always expressed themes of peace, harmony, and nature, and there is yet another dose of this spirit right here for those who love him. Imagine John Denver, the ever-so charismatic, message-bearing singer/songwriter/prophet, delivering songs with a high-intensity group of fellow musicians. It is here, during the recording sessions of Autograph, that Denver pulls out his magic, singing joyous mountain-music jams and sweet, teary-eyed ballads with his backup group, his friends the Sharks. Johnny and the Sharks come through here with grace and pizzazz, delivering messages of laughter, hope, and wisdom through strong folk storytelling. The opening of the record sustains with rich color and enchantment, attached to a wistful, lighthearted jam. "Dancing With the Mountains" is certainly danceable, as much as "In My Heart" is smooth and easygoing, ready for the slow-dance scene. "The Ballad of St. Anne's Reel" is filled with texture, percussive wittiness, and vibrant, long-lasting jamming. The Sharks and Denver go airborne during this tune, appearing to soar to higher heights with eagles in cobalt mountain skies. Denver's merry charisma shines through with delightful resonance during his yodeling and singing in "Wrangell Mountain Song," a song about how "time goes by so slowly": a song about the excitement of anticipation. Dashing further away from Denver's pop-folk rock ballad formula is the hauntingly beautiful tune "Whalebones and Crosses," a charming, prophetic statement of grief, gratitude, and compassion for those sailors and loved ones, those fallen fathers lost to the perils of sea. "American Child" rings clear with visions of the icy blue seas of Alaska, and the adventurous trek of a child to pursue his dreams, to find a sense of solitude and fulfillment. The land of the midnight sun soon unfolds into the following tune of deep lyrical sentiment, "You May Say the Battle Is Over." "Most men are ruthless, but some will still weep when the gifts we were given are gone," is a strong statement of a melody that carries themes of peace, and of those who wish and pray, "let the war be over." Autograph is a genuine and sentimental statement displaying the strong and crafty songwriting of John Denver. ~ Shawn M. Haney