Far from being a typical cynical Eagles-bashing crit, I’m a fan dating back to their first album, and loved them up through The Long Run (and the Hell Freezes Over reunion), so I greeted the arrival of their first new album in 28 years with considerable excitement (and near disbelief). I feared that it might sound like four solo artists (fifth Eagle Don Felder having been jettisoned along the way) trading off on a bunch of dissimilar-sounding songs. But no, it really does sound like classic Eagles, with those creamy harmonies, sharp and memorable guitar lines, and leaders Don Henley and Glenn Frey as strong and self-assured as ever. A few songs here will find their way to the group’s crowded pantheon of classics: “How Long” (written by fellow traveler J.D. Souther) is the group in country-rockin’ “Already Gone” mode; “Busy Being Fabulous” has some of that R&B bite that propelled “The Long Run.” “Fast Company” is this album’s “Life in the Fast Lane.” “Waiting in the Weeds” is vintage Henley, maybe about a girl, maybe about a certain band… “Long Road Out of Eden,” at more than 10 minutes, is epic in length and scope—a powerful and poetic glimpse of war and America in the 21st century. It’s followed by a lovely Frey instrumental, “I Dreamed There was No War.” The playing is crisp, the arrangements are clean, the sonics top-notch, as always. There are a few minor missteps—some clichéd love ballads and a bit of over-earnest social commentary from Mr. H—but most of what’s here is pretty damn good; definitely an unexpected surprise.
Produced by the Eagles, with Steuart Smith, Richard F.W. Davis, Scott Crago and Bill Szymczyk. Engineers: Mike Harlow, Davis, Hank Linderman, Steve Churchyard, Chris Bell, Mike Terry. Mixing: Elliot Scheiner. Studios: The Doghouse, Samhain Sound, O’Henry, Henson, Mooselodge (all L.A. area); Panhandle House, Luminous Sound (both in Texas). Mastering: Bob Ludwig/Gateway Mastering.