Personnel: John Willis (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Larry Beaird (acoustic guitar, banjo); Dewey Bunnell, Gerry Beckley (acoustic guitar, background vocals); Fred Mollin (acoustic 12-string guitar, synthesizer, percussion, background vocals); Pat Buchanan (electric guitar); Mike Johnson (pedal steel guitar); Stewart Duncan (mandolin, fiddle); Tony Harrell (piano, harmonium, organ, Wurlitzer organ, synthesizer); John Jarvis (piano, Wurlitzer organ); Greg Morrow (drums, percussion); Russell Terrell (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Kyle Lehning.
Recording information: British Grove Studios, London, England; The Tracking Room, Nashville, TN; Your Place Or Mine, Glendale, CA; Zoomar South Studios, Nashville, TN.
Photographers: Henry Diltz; Dmitri Kasterine.
America follows up their much-hyped major-label 2007 comeback Here & Now by shifting to an independent imprint and covering favorite songs. The move to an indie cleans up the production -- there's not the old-school warmth that James Iha brought to it -- and lessens the scope, so apart from the touch-too-pristine surfaces, this sounds intimate and friendly. There are no great surprises in the song selection, it's heavily weighted toward classic songwriters like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and Brian Wilson, and has a selection from Schlesinger's Fountains of Wayne, so the only surprises are tunes from the Gin Blossoms and the New Radicals, whose melodicism fits quite well here, and there are mild, subtle surprises within the arrangements, with Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley turning these familiar tunes into something that sounds distinctly like America. It's comfortable and engaging without being complacent; it's a visit with old friends that still can do something unexpected after all these years. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine