al stewart

J o h n... S t e w a r t

beach full of shells
John Stewart
The Day the River Sang


“Songwriter/singer John Stewart's musical career reaches back to the early ’60s with the Kingston Trio, and so a new collection of his songs, presented with fairly basic arrangements, must seem like something of a homecoming. Stewart’s smoky, weathered vocals (with just a touch of reverb added) brings an authentic style to ‘Baby, It’s You,’ ‘Jasmine,’ and the title cut. . . . What really stands out on The Day the River Sang are the singer and the songs, one man’s interpretation of his own work. This gives songs like ‘Sister Mercy’ an intimate, revelatory feel. Overall, the work here is fairly mellow, so it’s nice when upbeat songs like ‘Amanda Won’t Dance’ and ‘Midnight Train’ mix things up a bit. The album closes with the relaxed, bluesy ‘Slider,’ complete with some nifty electric guitar riffs by Stewart. For those who appreciate Stewart’s gift as a singer/songwriter, The Day the River Sang offers a new chapter in an ongoing musical saga.” 
– Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., All Music Guide
“[Stewart’s] earth-beaten vocals have inspired everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Lindsay Buckingham . . . Stewart’s songs continue to capture the essence of America . . . Another fine chapter in his well-crafted discography.” 
–Craig Harris, Dirty Linen
“. . . The 67-year-old Stewart is still going strong. . . . The overall qualtity of this latest album is very high. Stewart’s voice is very listenable and his lyrics draw the audience into the pictures he is painting. . . . I like it and you will too. Recommended.”
– Victor K. Heyman, Sing Out!
“. . . An impressive addition to his canon. He has a gentle and soothing style, as comfortable as a favourite armchair, that relaxes the listener and envelops them in the music. You can hear the years in his voice, but he hasn’t descended into gravely world-weariness, instead retaining his light and melodic touch. He was Americana before the term was used for music, and both he and his songs are a key, if too often unacknowledged, part of the American musical landscape. Here he’s at the top of his songwriting form. ‘Jasmine’ breathes new life into that tiredest of genres, the road song. . . . ‘New Orleans’ is as poignant a lament for that shattered city as you will hear . . . His characters are finely drawn and richly detailed, whether it’s Jose and Lefty, the doomed heroin-addicted jockeys in ‘Golden Gate Fields,’ the non-dancing ‘Amanda’ or ‘Slider’ who reached too high and got burnt. The near completely acoustic music is easy, seemingly effortless and supremely listenable, as only music played by great musicians can be. . . . So a great album from one of the great survivors, who could have sat back and lived on the royalties from ‘Daydream Believer’ for ever, but instead continues to make stunning and vital music. (4 stars)” 
– Jeremy Searle, Maverick, UK
“Setting aside the 40 years of Americana he’s been on the cutting edge of, Stewart has a pop album here; not for today’s pop fan but for his contemporaries that have stayed with him all through the years.  [T]his is a pretty raw side of Stewart, letting it hang out and setting the stage for another classic in the mode of California Bloodlines or Blondes.  If you aren’t a fan, you should be.
– Chris Spector, Midwest Record Recap
“As so often happens to those who got hooked on Stewart in the era of California Bloodlines and its follow-up, Willard (1970), I have carried a kind of emotional investment in Stewart and his muse. . . . It’s not just the always professional songcraft; it’s also that as a thinking, loving, despairing, anxious, romantic, still dimly hopeful fellow citizen, he grapples with many of the issues that occupy my own reflections as human being and American. . . . It is pleasing to hear that gravelly voice up front, too, supported by appropriately unfussy arrangements – mostly just a guitar or two, bass and percussion, sometimes less than that – affording the listener at least the illusion of intimacy (even if one suspects that in person Stewart is probably as guarded as they come). Uniformly strong . . . I am also partial to the pure folk of the traditional-sounding ‘Run the Ridges,’ an outlaw ballad, as well as to the elegiac, post-Katrina lament ‘New Orleans’ (written with his longtime wife Buffy Ford Stewart). . . . Likewise, "Midnight Train" may have no more than a generic name, but put that aside and give it a chance. . . . [I]t’s one hell of an entertaining ride on its way to a terrific punchline, at the expense of the Cadillacs’ goofily enigmatic ‘Speedo.’ If you remember 1955 and had a radio or jukebox within listening distance, that verse will smack you to the floor, and it’ll be a while before you're able to stop laughing and pull yourself together.” 
– Jerome Clark, Rambles.NET: A Cultural Arts Magazine
“Singer/songwriter John Stewart’s latest release, The Day the River Sang, is a fine follow-up to his superb 2003 album, Havana. Themes of dreams, hopes, memories and better days permeate Stewart’s writing, and his craggy voice gives his tunes a lived-in feel, like a favorite old chair. Check out the rough-and-tumble experience of years Stewart brings to the opening ‘Baby, It’s You’ and ‘Sister Mercy’ or the sly groove of ‘Amanda Won't Dance.’ His tribute to the city of New Orleans on ‘New Orleans’ is particularly lovely.” 
– Todd Whitesel, Discoveries
“John Stewart has been purveying his own individual ‘essence of Americana’ for over forty years now. Most of us know the infuriatingly simple ‘Daydream Believer,’ possibly ‘Runaway Train’ (a hit for Rosanne Cash) and maybe ‘Gold’ too, but the truth is that John's been responsible for a hell of a lot more fine songs over the years. His trademark is simple yet often strikingly beautiful imagery, expressed in spare and uncomplicated language, which gives a uniquely touching quality to his creations, and this new disc abounds with prime examples – the supremely evocative ‘Jasmine,’ the forlorn pre-hurricane portrait of a city ‘New Orleans,’ the road-weary ‘East Of Denver,’ the personal and incredibly poignant Broken Roses,’ to single out just four here. . . . Musical backings are understated, firmly in the ‘gentle on the mind,’ universally appealing lightly-rocking country-folk-rock mould, and John's heart-on-the-sleeve, settled-yet-passionate vocal delivery expresses his feelings in a way that no other’s could . . . . The direct spirituality of John’s outlook, his unqualified love of humanity, comes across in music of tremendous hope and almost tearful optimism, which in certain moods I can find overwhelming (albeit in a very positive way); that’s meant as a compliment to John’s integrity and his power of communication. John’s songs grab you and tend not to let go without a fight – which makes it all the more surprising that there aren’t more performers covering them.” 
– David Kidman, NetRhythms