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John Waite - Downtown Journey of a Heart

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating

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John Waite - Downtown ... Journey of a Heart CD Cover

John Waite - Downtown ... Journey of a Heart

© Rounder Records

The Bottom Line

With Downtown...Journey of a Heart, John Waite tours through what are some of the most prevalent forces in contemporary Americana, including a deliciously ragged version of Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited," and a duet with Alison Krauss. From "The Hard Way" to "When I See You Smile," Waite tells melodic stories that, like their characters, are only heartbreaking when you listen closely. Let them play in the background, and it can feel like a real good time.
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Pros

  • Missing You (With Alison Krauss)
  • St. Patrick's Day
  • New York City Girl
  • When I See You Smile

Cons

  • Not for quiet folkies

Description

  • Stunning duet with Alison Krauss on "Missing You"
  • Excellent cover of Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited"
  • Includes everything from pop to folk and the blues

Guide Review - John Waite - Downtown Journey of a Heart

Downtown...Journey of a Heart starts out sounding a lot like a rock record, but quickly takes a turn down a long dusty road to folk music, peaking with his cover of Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited," and ending once and for all with a heartbreaking "When I See You Smile."

He even covers himself, backed up by the always glorious Alison Krauss, whose performance on Waite's classic "Missing You" gives the song a new depth of melody and emotion that you didn't know was missing from the original.

From there, as if walking, broken-hearted, away from Krauss, Waite moves through the blues with "Keys to Your Heart," a tune that sounds half-way between the Eagles and Steve Winwood.

It's difficult to pin just what Waite is driving at with Downtown. His roots-rock rhythms intermingle nicely with doo-woppy background vocalists, intermittent piano and harmonica. At times, it sounds like someone's banging on a brake drum or even tin cans, though that's nowhere in the instrument credits.

"New York City Girl" starts with what sounds like almost canned percussion and piano, but quickly builds layer upon layer of piano, guitar, and organic drumming, all the way up to the penultimate electric guitar solo. It's enough to make cliché-ish lyrics like "There's an angel on the D train," forgivable.

In fact, it's the impressive instrumentation that makes this record much more well-rounded than we may be used to from John Waite. Still, as usual, Waite's work is not intended for quiet, intimate moments and Downtown leans more toward roots-rock than folk, it's a good record for driving with the windows down.

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