It’s been 28 years since the last Eagles studio album. 28 years! And so, finally, comes Long Road Out of Eden, an album that alone took six years to complete. While you’re listening to this new set of songs, however, it’s hard to imagine that any time has passed at all.
The classic Eagles sound is still there in full force, but this is not simply a nostalgia trip — Don Henley in particular anchors much of the album with biting critiques of current American culture and foreign policy. Sure, it’s trendy to bash the current political climate (cf. Pink), but only Henley (or perhaps Roger Waters) can write lyrics like “And we pray to our Lord/Who we know is American…/He supports us in war/He presides over football games.”
Still, there’s more beauty than bitterness amongst the 20 tracks on offer, such as “Center of the Universe”, a gentle piece that hits just the right notes with its pastoral guitar-work, or the near-a cappella “No More Walks in the Wood”, which manages to be environmentally-conscious without sounding too preachy or condescending.
There are too many great moments to run through them all, but it would be remiss not to mention the ten minute title track which serves as a centrepiece to the album. Somewhat reminiscent of “Hotel California”, “Long Road Out of Eden” replaces dark observations on the price of fame with pointed political commentary, juxtaposing the dream of empire-building with the realities of war in a foreign land. (And all she still wants to do is dance, I guess.) It’s the music, however, that sells the song, and this track above the rest deserves to be played loud: it’s full of nuance and atmosphere that needs to be felt more than simply listened to.
At 90 minutes over two discs, the risk is that the album wears out its welcome, but instead the experience remains pleasant and engaging throughout. I cannot overemphasise just how good this album is — I have yet to hear the new Bruce Springsteen, the new John Fogerty or even the new Neil Young, but Long Road… is perhaps so powerful, so surprising, because it’s so unexpected. How many other bands can manage material this strong after a near-30 year hiatus? Very, very few.