At age 74, renowned singer-songwriter JD Souther feels like he has more stamina onstage than when he was 30, and it’s not because he has long since given up drugs and smoking. A solo artist and a songwriter who has penned hits for Linda Ronstadt and co-written songs with members of The Eagles, Mr. Souther used to require the security a band provided when performing onstage, but in his advanced years has become fond of performing one-man shows, which he will bring to the stage of the Lobero Theatre on February 26.
Because much of his recent touring is just him with an acoustic guitar and a piano, Mr. Souther expects his next album will resultantly take a folky direction. This would be a dramatic pendulum swing from the swooning, orchestrated jazz of his last album, 2015’s “Tenderness.” Though perhaps best known as a significant figure in the west coast country rock of the 1970s, much of Mr. Souther’s recent work has an apparent jazz underpinning. However, that’s not to say they are the same or even similar. After an uptempo offering with the 2008 album “If the World Was You,” the singer slowed things down with 2011’s “Natural History,” an album of re-recorded versions of songs from his back catalogue and numbers he had a hand in writing that other artists recorded. That album’s downtempo sound of piano and acoustic guitars slowed down even more with “Tenderness” and got embellished with string quartet arrangements. In an interview with the News-Press, Mr. Souther stated that this demonstrated shift in styles and the intended change to a folk direction on his next album is because of his aversion to treading over familiar territory.
“I don’t want to make the same album twice,” he said.
He doesn’t like performing the same concert twice either, and performing a one-man show offers a lot of freedom to mix up the set list and tell different stories. For the Lobero Theatre concert, Mr. Souther said his set will comprise of songs from all eight of his albums as well as his versions of songs he penned for Ms. Ronstadt and co-wrote with The Eagles. The fact that this is a stripped-down show won’t stop him from showcasing some numbers from “Tenderness” such as its opening track “Come What May.” When asked if it is a challenge to perform an orchestrated song without a string section, Mr. Souther replied that stripping away the accompanying arrangement reveals whether an audience really liked the song or just enjoyed the arrangement. If an audience likes a song as much without a string quartet it does with one, then that’s a testament to the strength of the song.
“You certainly find out if there’s something to the song or not,” he stated.
If he plays his most famous hit song, 1979’s “You’re Only Lonely,” Mr. Souther said it will be more in the style of the low-key re-recording on “Natural History” than the original. Though he has fond memories of recording the more famous version and hitting its famous, passionate high notes, the singer remarked that subduing the gusto is just as satisfying.
“It’s also really nice to take it down a bit,” he said.
Tickets for JD Souther’s January 26 concert can be purchased online at www.lobero.org. The concert begins at 8 p.m. at the Lobero Theatre, located at 33 E Canon Perdido St. email: firstname.lastname@example.org