Life And Times
Released: February 1973
Chart Peak: #7
Weeks Charted: 84
Certified Gold: 11/2/73
Jim Croce is the most blatantly commercial of the newest crop of folksingers, although in his case that is more compliment than criticism. He is an expert guitarist and relaxed vocalist, possessed of a more personal style and accomplished singing technique than most. His melodies are memorable, even if they sometimes run together, and his lyrics at least express a thought and at most tell a damn good story. His songs are tight, seldom running over three minutes, and yet rarely suffer from the forced compression of too much Top 40 material. And the production by Terry Cashman and Tommy West does more with the slight instrumentation Croce works with than lots of folks do with twice as much. All of which is to say that Life And Times is not the musical revolution but an eminently enjoyable album -- the work of a first-rate craftsman.
Croce is capable of slipping into the cliches of his genres, as in occasional lines about "sweet magnolia calling" and "Christmas lights," but mainly he sustains my interest through his depiction of the alternate sides of his romantic vision -- one that encompasses the fantasy world of bizarre but human characters and the romantic world populated by lonely people who always manage to miss making their connection. It is his ability to sustain both approaches on the same record that marks him as a superior new talent.
- Jon Landau, Rolling Stone, 4/26/73.
Story songs of a very personal nature are the hallmark of Croce's works. His soaring voice carries him through his trips of life, and we are privy to his experiences. A generally gentle backdrop of unamplified guitars and flutes sets up a gentle blanket for his stories. There is a touch of humor to such titles as "Roller Derby Queen," "These Dreams" and "Careful Man." "Speedball Tucker" lets us view the life of the highway truck driver.
- Billboard, 1973.
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