Far From Home
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 1994, Volume 1, #5
Written by John Metzger
Far From Home, the latest effort from Traffic, is the best thing to come out of Steve Winwood in years. However, it also comes up short in comparison to Traffic's other albums. To Winwood and Jim Capaldi's credit, they really jelled as a band during their run with the Grateful Dead this past summer. Sadly, the group played very few songs from its new album; it would have been very interesting to see how the material on Far from Home would have evolved. It appears that very little time was spent together prior to the recording of the endeavor, and this is where the album misses its mark.
Much of the material on Far from Home follows the same path as Steve Winwood's recent solo excursions. Nevertheless, he and Capaldi manage to add another dimension to the music by allowing it to drift a little further than most of Winwood's songs have in years. Some of the potential is realized in the jazz-pop interplay of keyboards and flute on Here Comes a Man as well as the dreamy guitar and vocals of the title track. The instrumental Mozambique really soars since it lacks the boundaries generally provided by Winwood's lyrics. Nowhere is Their Freedom also breaks free a few times. This latter track was performed on a number of dates over the summer, and it clearly demonstrates that Traffic is still a force. The haunting Holy Ground, with its eerie Uilleann pipes, rings of environmental and social destruction.
Unfortunately, there is no Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys, Freedom Rider, or Rainmaker. All that's on Far from Home is some much improved Steve Winwood solo material. Anyone who has enjoyed his last few albums will take to Far From Home just fine. Those looking for something along the lines of Traffic's classic output ought to keep looking — the group is far from home.
One final note — don't read the lyrics. For the most part, you'll be disappointed.
Far from Home is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1994 The Music Box