Full Circle

Dan Fogelberg

Morning Sky, 2003


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The old saying is so, so true: hindsight is 20/20. Although he was not diagnosed with prostate cancer until the year after Full Circle, Dan Fogelberg’s final album released in his lifetime (and his first studio release in almost 10 years, not including his Christmas album), one has to wonder whether he knew the writing was on the wall.

Yes, Fogelberg showed a lot of introspection in his songwriting, especially telling autobiographical tales in songs like “Leader Of The Band,” but there is something about this disc that is haunting at times, almost like, as the title suggests, Fogelberg was returning to where he began to wrap things up musically. (And, yes, I know he was far from done writing and recording; a posthumous disc is promised for the fall of 2008.) But Full Circle seems to serve as a good – but not great – bookend to Fogelberg’s career.

Opening with the maudlin instrumental “Half Moon Bay,” Fogelberg quickly treads into familiar territory with “When You’re Not Near Me,” a pleasant but not remarkable light-rock ballad that is pleasing enough. At times, it seems like the production on this disc is a little too much for Fogelberg – meaning, where he liked to keep things simple musically, the production added a level of complication that was unnecessary.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Indeed, Full Circle seems to waver from great to average moments throughout the first half of the disc. Where a track such as “Once In Love” could well be among the best in Fogelberg’s catalog, other tracks like “Whispers In The Wind” and the cover of Gene Clark’s “Full Circle” just fall wide of the target, creating moments that just don’t last for the listener.

What makes Full Circle a disc to be reckoned with is the one-two punch of “This Heart” and “Reach Haven Postcard,” two of Fogelberg’s most emotional tracks he’s done in a long time. Add into this the slightly weaker musically but just as powerful emotionally “Drawing Pictures,” and you quickly learn that Fogelberg had lost little of his step from his glory days, even if his vocals sounded rougher and little more pained at times.

“Icarus Ascending” could have easily been the perfect track to close this disc, as it is another tour-de-force of songwriting and performance that long-time fans of Fogelberg had come to expect. But to close it with the weaker track, a cover of Bill Martin’s “Earth Anthem,” is a little anticlimactic, at least to this listener.

There are people who probably think that Fogelberg stopped recording with his 1984 album Windows And Walls, since that was the last time his music graced the top half of the charts, though he had revisited the Adult Contemporary chart a few times. (Last time I checked, this particular disc didn’t even crack the Billboard 200 – damn shame, really.) Anyone who has followed the Fogelberg retrospective, or who is a long-time Fogelberg fan, knows differently, and they know there were some real special releases during that time that were otherwise ignored. Full Circle rightfully can be placed in this category, and is a nice, though flawed, final release from Fogelberg before his passing in 2007.

Rating: B

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© 2008 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Morning Sky, and is used for informational purposes only.