Deja Vu All Over Again
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2004, Volume 11, #10
Written by John Metzger
Since the collapse of Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Fogerty has released scant few solo albums, but with the exception of his disastrous 1986 outing Eye of the Zombie, the wait always has been worth it. The same can be said of his latest endeavor Deja Vu All Over Again — the singer’s first studio effort in seven years — and although his stylistic scope largely is culled from the same swampy brew of rockabilly, R&B, country, and pop on which he first cut his teeth, the urgency of his delivery combined with the effortless ease of his performance keeps the set sounding fresh.
It helps, too, that Fogerty doesn’t mess around. Packing ten songs into a mere 34-minute set, Deja Vu All Over Again is concise, concluding long before it begins to sound even remotely stale. From the thunderous stomp of In the Garden to the title track’s powerfully resonant statement that draws parallels between the Iraq and Vietnam wars, the collection bristles with a vigorous bite that few veteran rockers manage to achieve this late in their careers. Elsewhere, the acoustic-oriented bent of tunes like the bubbly Sugar-Sugar (in My Life), the Sun Studios-style send-up Honey Do, and the bluegrass-tinged I Will Walk with You (featuring dobro master Jerry Douglas) offer delightful twists on Fogerty’s familiar fare.
The problems with Deja Vu All Over Again are slight, and they largely stem from a trio of tracks that seemingly pay tribute to Elvis Costello (Radar), The Ramones (She’s Got Baggage), and, with Mark Knopfler performing his best redux of Sultans of Swing, Dire Straits (Nobody’s Here Anymore). While Fogerty’s desire to venture into different arenas certainly is admirable — and it does serve to highlight the influence he had on the music of the late ’70s — within the scope of the album, there’s no context in which to affix these experimental ruminations. As a result, good as these songs are, they feel jarringly out of place. For most artists, an outing with three minor missteps is a rousing success. For Fogerty, it’s a near-miss, and consequently, perfection lies just out of reach.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box