The Inkwell from York, one of the best record shops in my near vicinity, put up a plug for the re-release of this, the first, self-titled album by singer-songwriter Ned Doheny on social media last week. Described in 1973 by Rolling Stone as 'a sort of Southern Californian Astral Weeks' on its release. It's not that but to compare it with Moondance instead might not be a million miles off the mark.
It's assured, laid-back sun-dappled stuff. Doheny was right in the pack of the Laurel Canyon set and it seems curious given his golden looks and obvious, abundant talent that he didn't become a huge star. An associate and friend of The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, J.D.Souther and Jackson Browne, (who pays tribute to him here), and this record highlights all that was worthwhile about that stuff while avoiding its worst indulgences. This is a beautiful, affecting record, ideal to welcome in a sunny Sunday morning, which is what it's doing for me.
Robert Christgau slagged off the record on its release claiming it was all West Coast nepotism, but his sneering review is mean spirited New York snipe and doesn't do a fine album the remotest justice. What you think of it will probably depend on how you view the tradition it fits squarely within. Doheny doesn't break any moulds, nor does he attempt to, his songs are by turns happy, reflective, unpretentious and melodic and well-worthy of re-assessment.