http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/da06501b24253adc1d63f17419213334c376a7d0.jpg The Very Best Of Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne

The Very Best Of Jackson Browne

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April 19, 2004

During the 1970s, Jackson Browne was it — a boyishly handsome SoCal icon whose critically admired hit albums spoke to listeners with unparalleled intimacy. The first half of this two-disc retrospective, drawing on Browne's five 1970s LPs and paced by stunning personal narratives such as ""These Days,"" ""Fountain of Sorrow"" and ""The Pretender,"" is unflaggingly luminous and heart-rending. The second disc, which focuses on the eight albums Browne released between 1980 and 2002, testifies to the consistency of his vision, displaying an acute observer who looked into himself (""I'm Alive"") and at the world around him (""Looking East"") with candor and eloquence. The politically charged ""Lives in the Balance,"" from 1986, sounds strikingly relevant today, and Browne's biggest hit, 1982's ""Somebody's Baby,"" is ear candy at its most bittersweet. Very Best makes a compelling case for Browne as rock's greatest confessional singer-songwriter.

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