We Review John Oates’ New Solo Album

We Review John Oates’ New Solo Album | Society Of Rock Videos

via John Oates / Youtube

John Oates is experiencing a full-circle moment with his sixth solo album, Reunion. Known for reaching multi-platinum heights with Daryl Hall in the ’80s, Oates now returns to his roots, echoing the early days before Hall and Oates. This album reflects the John Oates who contributed to 1972’s jangly Whole Oats, showcasing a sound reminiscent of his initial foray into music, long before the flashy MTV videos that made him a household name. His early work featured pedal steel, a sound that resurfaces in his solo endeavors.

Oates’ move to Nashville in the 2000s brought him closer to these roots. With 2011’s blues-tinged Mississippi Mile, he began to musically distance himself from Hall. Although he occasionally touched on their signature style, as heard in the sleek grooves of “Pushing a Rock Uphill” from 2014’s Good Road to Follow, albums like 2018’s Arkansas drew a direct line to his past. Reunion signifies Oates’ desire to move beyond the musical partnership that defined him, embracing a sound that reflects his individual journey and influences.

A master collaborator, Oates effortlessly joins forces with accomplished musicians like Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, and Sam Bush. He found a new songwriting partner in A.J. Croce, crafting the deeply moving title track. John Prine’s influence is evident, with Oates offering a quietly confidential cover of Prine’s “Long Monday,” capturing a sense of acceptance amidst reflection. Oates and Croce first met at a tribute to Prine at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, a meeting that profoundly influenced Reunion. This album is authentically Oates, a statement of Americana purpose that consolidates his solo explorations from the past decade and a half.

Although it’s tempting to view the album through the lens of Hall and Oates’ turbulent separation, its themes stand on their own. “Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee” pays homage to the Piedmont blues masters, reflecting a deep sense of musical kinship. “This Field is Mine” is imbued with a devastating sense of loss, while “All I Ask of You” contemplates legacy and memory. Despite the album’s title, Reunion is less about rekindling past partnerships and more about Oates forging his path, finding honesty, hope, and motivation in defying expectations and the passage of time.

While many legacy artists are content with playing old favorites to keep cashing checks, Oates’ solo album stands out. He stays true to his pre-fame musical dreams, choosing a road less traveled. While this path won’t lead back to the chart-topping successes of ’80s hits like “Out of Touch,” “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” and “Maneater,” it offers a richer, more interesting journey. Reunion showcases Oates’ commitment to authenticity and artistic growth, making it a significant milestone in his career.

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