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Traffic

Far From Home  Hear it Now

RS: 3of 5 Stars Average User Rating: 2.5of 5 Stars

2005

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Rather than recapture past glories, reunion albums generally just remind us that those glories are indeed past. Updating a once-popular sound seems beyond older rock musicians – most come across as either ridiculously retro or hopelessly passé.

That's hardly the case with Traffic. Apart from the state-of-the-art synths, most of what you hear on Far From Home would have easily suited the soulful spirit and jazzy groove of Mr. Fantasy or The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys. Although this version of Traffic is actually only Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi, the sound, thanks to overdubbing, is wonderfully full; even better, Winwood's keyboards handily fill the gap left by Chris Wood (check out the synthesized sax solo on "Some Kinda Woman").

The playing, in fact, is probably the best thing about Far From Home. There's a wonderful sense of cohesion to the instrumental work on "Mozambique," while the finale to "Here Comes a Man," with its blend of organ, guitar and synthesized flute, perfectly evokes the improvisatory chemistry that fueled Mr. Fantasy. Nor is there any quibbling with the slick synthfunk groove generated by "Riding High."

Trouble is, groove is about all Winwood and Capaldi seem capable of this time around. As well-arranged as these tracks are, what passes for melody on most of the songs is generic and forgettable. Nor are the lyrics much better, tending either to a vague, New Agey mysticism or offering such well-articulated profundities as "You some kinda woman."

It's not as if that's all Winwood and Capaldi are capable of, mind. "This Train Won't Stop" fleshes out its gospelized groove with a tuneful verse and chorus, while the achingly lyrical "Holy Ground" may be the best ballad Winwood has had a hand in since "Can't Find My Way Home." But the strengths of those songs only underscore how bland the rest of the album seems.

J.D. CONSIDINE

(Posted: Jun 16, 1994)

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