Leon Rus­sell

On A Dis­tant Shore

Classic Rock - - The Hard Stuff Albums - Ju­lian Marsza­lek

Over-pro­duced swan­song by the cel­e­brated and pro­lific song­writer.

When Leon Rus­sell died in 2016 at the age of 74, what he left be­hind from a 60-year ca­reer in­cluded writ­ing, record­ing and pro­duc­tion work with some of the gi­ants of mu­sic, in­clud­ing Joe Cocker, Bob Dy­lan, the Rolling Stones and even Frank Si­na­tra. With On A Dis­tant Shore the well-re­spected fig­ure draws a veil over a life well lived.

Alas Rus­sell’s fi­nal al­bum isn’t quite the cur­tain call one would have hoped for. Thanks to Mark Lam­bert’s overly os­ten­ta­tious and fre­quently in­tru­sive pro­duc­tion, Rus­sell oc­ca­sion­ally sounds lost within his own ma­te­rial. As on Just Leaves And Grass and On The Wa­ter­front, swelling strings en­gulf the mu­sic rather than en­hance it, thus leav­ing Rus­sell sound­ing like a guest at his own party. But when they do get it right – the low-key blues of Black And Blue Rus­sell punc­tu­ates with an em­phatic and wor­thy full stop.

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