With Peaceful Easy Feeling: The Songs of Jack Tempchin, the singer/songwriter reaffirms his own strengths as an artist at the same time he fashions a heartfelt tribute to his frequent and long-time collaborator, the late Glenn Frey of the Eagles Conceived and executed in much the same stripped-down style as One More Song (Blue Elan, 2016), this album carries an emotional resonance because it works through outright homage as well as reverse psychology: Tempchin's creative partnership brought out the softer side of a man once a member of Bob Seger's band back in his native Detroit, long before he became one of the dual leaders of the iconic country-rockers with Don Henley.
With this rationale in mind, it makes perfect sense the arrangement of this album's title song is a virtual duplicate of the one on the Eagles eponymous debut. The relaxed amble of a rhythm and background harmonies as sweet and seductive as the solo midway through the track, the end effect here is exactly as intended: to fondly evoke memories of hearing Glenn Frey's voice, very likely for the first time. Objectively speaking, such a reaction is the definition of nostalgia, but the saccharine tone fades long before the end of that cut, replaced instead with fond remembrance for the gentle vocal tones the co-founder of the Eagles utilized throughout his career (with the band and as a solo artist). And it's Jack Tempchin's generosity of spirit that reaffirms that very notion during the best moments elsewhere here.
For instance, this rootsy take on "Already Gone" literally sounds like an outtake from the Eagles' first album or its followup Desperado (Asylum, 1973). Adorned with banjo and dobro, it's far removed from the ebullient, hard rocking track featuring electric guitarist Don Felder from On The Border (Asylum, 1974). In a very similar vein, and, not coincidentally also featuring Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen on a similar variety of instruments, "It's Your World Now," also works via understatement sourced in a sharp acoustic guitar solo. It is quite unlike the heretofore-unreleased tune of Tempchin and Frey's called "Privacy " where a rumbling ensemble performance (consisting mostly of overdubbing by producer Joel Piper) of doesn't quite elevate the song's over-obvious sentiment.
While the cantankerous attitude within the raucous "Party Town" doesn't exactly ring false, this second of two high volume numbers also sounds forced because, unlike a tempered remake of Jack Tempchin's signature song, "Slow Dancing," this approach doesn't come naturally to him. Would that his other vocal duet here, "Soul Searchin' with Janiva Magness, was a similarly true-to-life expression of devotion as his pairing with Rita Coolidge; on this composition made famous in 1977 by Johnny Rivers, their dulcet harmonizing avoids all but a hint of the lachrymose tone of the aforementioned hit.
In this subdued remake (another version of which appeared on the prior album), the prominence of Chris Garcia's acoustic piano, tastefully amplified by engineer extradordinaire Elliott Scheiner's audio mix, also reaffirms the fundamental attraction of the quiet, intimate style that makes Peaceful Easy Feeling: The Songs of Jack Tempchin worth hearing.
Peaceful Easy Feeling; Part of Me, Part of You; Slow Dancing;The One You Love; Soul Searchin'; Already Gone; Privacy; Everybody's Gonna Love Somebody Tonight; Party Town; It's Your World Now.
Jack Tempchin: vocals, guitar, harmonica; Joel Piper: background vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, programming; percussion; Chris Garcia: piano (track three only); Chris Hillman: mandolin, bass, background vocals (tracks six and ten only); Herb Pederson: guitar, dobro, background vocals (tracks six and ten only); Rita Coolidge: vocals (track three only); janiva Magness; vocals (track five only); Bernie Barlow: background vocals (track five only).