Clocking in at a terse thirty-four minutes, Deja Vu All Over Again lives up to its title. It plays like a brisk spin through John Fogerty’s personal jukebox, but just when you’re settling in, it’s over. Then there’s nothing to do but start it up again.
Still, it’s a quick, energizing ride. The echoes in these ten songs are distracting at first, but they’re so unabashed that you’re soon won over. “Nobody’s Here Anymore” borrows so directly from Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing” that Mark Knopfler’s (characteristically deft and tasteful) presence on guitar seems almost redundant. Meanwhile, “She’s Got Baggage” recalls, of all things, the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.” And, inevitably, when Fogerty slips into his swamp-rock comfort zone, his own songs haunt him; you’ll notice, for example, “Green River” lurking behind “Wicked Old Witch.”
But echoes are, after all, part of what this album’s about — and they’re not just musical. The title track is Fogerty’s indictment of the Iraq war as another Vietnam, a senseless squandering of American lives and power. “Day by day I hear the voices rising,” he sings. “Started with a whisper like it did before/Day by day we count the dead and dying/Ship the bodies home while the networks all keep score.” This album’s least ambitious moments — the profession of devotion in “I Will Walk With You,” the Farfisa-organ-driven garage rock of “Radar” — are perhaps its most charming. But while John Fogerty may leave you wanting more, that doesn’t mean you’re not satisfied.