Time The Conqueror

After spending the late part of last year stumping for John Edwards, Jackson Browne continues to address the frustration, outrage and heartbreak over the Bush administration on his new album. Time the Conqueror finds him protesting with typical directness on tracks like "Where Were You," an elegant boogie about the U.S. response to Hurricane Katrina. Browne recorded with his longtime quartet in a style that evokes his recent solo acoustic work, and their quicksilver craft leaves no need for overworked arrangements. Backed by two soulful new singers, Chavonne Morris and Alethea Mills, on "The Drums of War," he deplores the U.S. government's enthusiasm for the Iraq adventure "long before the peace was lost." But not everything here is political: On "Just Say Yeah," Browne sings about watching for a woman's sports car in his neighborhood, and "Live Nude Cabaret" lifts a vision of a strip club into metaphysical places, with Browne envisioning leading one of the ladies to "the palace my imagination rules." As he contemplates issues of love and travel, he's always assessing the ways the world has changed since the Sixties. On "Going Down to Cuba," he recalls flying there before the embargo, and he remembers the Summer of Love unsentimentally on "Off of Wonderland," admitting that, back when he was in an "unknown" band, his generation didn't know how "to find our way/After RFK and Martin Luther King." And yet, he remains hopeful: "Do you feel it today? Love is still under way," he sings. Seriousness, after all, doesn't have to be a drag.

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