Gordon Lightfoot released a string of superlative albums between 1970 and 1976 for Warner/Reprise; Sundown is definitely one of the real standouts. From the relaxed, almost serene feel of the previous album (Old Dan's Records), Sundown (released in 1974) makes a sudden departure in mood. Many of the songs deal with moving and with restlessness. And yet, it's not the idea of going out and searching for something; rather it's the sort of restlessness you feel when you simply want to get away and get out on the road without any sort of specific game plan. It's this notion that makes the album so compelling.
A couple of Lightfoot's big hits can be found here; the title track, of course (with Red Shea's classic guitar solo, and Terry Clements' beautiful acoustic licks); and "Carefree Highway." But there are many, many other gems here as well: the chance-encounter scenario played out in "Somewhere USA"; the social commentary of "Circle of Steel" (with some beautiful recorder work by Jack Zaza); the stunning epic "Seven Island Suite"; fan favorite "The Watchman's Gone" (with, again, some beautiful acoustic work by Clements); and the evocative "Too Late For Praying" (a song which, after the events of 9/11, has taken on yet another shade of meaning). Additionally, the album is beautifully produced by Lenny Waronker: it's a clinic on how to record acoustic guitars. Lightfoot's trademark Gibson B45 12-string rings bright and clear on this recording, as do all the guitars. For the songs that utilize strings, the arrangements by Nick DeCaro are elegant and understated, never becoming obtrusive. The musicianship is, as usual, of the highest calibre: Lightfoot on 12 and 6 string guitars; Shea on acoustic, classical, and Telecaster; Clements on acoustic; John Stockfish (who was Lightfoot's regular bassist from 1966-69) appears along with Rick Haynes to contribute bass, and session ace Jim Gordon is on drums (it would be another couple of years before Lightfoot added a drummer to his regular touring band).
This is truly an essential Gordon Lightfoot album. If you've perhaps bought the recently-released Complete Greatest Hits and have become interested in adding some Lightfoot CDs to your collection, Sundown is certainly not a bad place to start!