Kenny Loggins has lived many musical lives, which range from his gentle side (“Return to Pooh”), to the rocker heard on “Danger Zone,” from the film Top Gun. For the most part, though, this Santa Barbara Records tribute to the man’s musical career, leans decidedly to his folkier sonic side.
However, even some of Loggins’ songs that rock a bit (in their original forms) are given quieter treatments herein. For instance, “I’m Alright,” which Loggins initially sang with obvious passion, is taken at a much slower pace in Glen Phillips’ hands. Phillips is heard again on “Hope In The Light,” which is another hushed, acoustic performance. The same can be said of Jackson Gillies’ take on “This Is It.” It is an acoustic performance, rather than the similar louder declaration made on “I’m Alright.” In both instances, these performances bring out new nuances in these songs. These are meditative, reflective performances. Rather than shouting out one’s wishes, these thoughts are kept more internally guarded. In the case of the latter, the rhythm is even taken at a much slower pace. There is an electric guitar solo that is moodier, rather than one that pushes the song’s tempo and passion quotient on it. Kudos to each of these artists for taking the time to rethink these familiar tunes.
One of this album’s best tracks is “Danny’s Song,” which Dominique Pruitt performs. It may not be one of Loggins’ most famous songs, but dang, it’s so good to hear it again! It’s made all the better by some steel guitar sweetening. It comes off as something that would sound great on today’s newfound mainstream country music’s return to its roots. It’s country how it’s meant to sound, and Pruitt takes a great song and brings out a different, welcome, twangier flavor from it. Speaking of different flavors, get a load of Hunter Hawkins’ take on “What A Fool Believes.” Yes, it might be difficult to get Michael McDonald’s distinctive voice out of your mind while it plays, as he was the lead singer on the original. However, Hawkins takes it in a distinctly different direction, as it is sung over a jazzy acoustic guitar backing. These two alterations highlight the strengths of Loggins’ original songs. Whenever songs can be performed in such entirely differing styles, it shows that the bones – so to speak – or good. These songwriting roots are strong enough to be molded differently, in other words.
Another country-ish rendition is “Celebrate Me Home.” It also incorporates plenty of steel guitar. This song has become a favorite concert-closer, oddly enough, at the end of holiday music shows. Even though it doesn’t directly mention anything at all about Christmas. However, it’s such a heartwarming song, it likely makes people think fondly about the holiday season. Trevor Bahnson performs it with true feeling, which is exactly what one would hope to hear from it.
Calling this collection CAliAmericana underscores Kenny Loggins’ wide sphere of influence. You might say he was Americana before Americana was cool (or even existed). And yet, all these artists have received inspiration from his collected works. Americana, after all, was a sort of catch-all style for a lot of rootsy music that just didn’t seem to fit anyplace else. Kenny Loggins’ music is both timely and timeless, and this gathering of cover songs will make you love his music even more.