"Agoraphobic" might be a more appropriate title, so safe and close to home does Clapton play it here. "Journeyman" is a far cry superior to his previous platter, "August," to be certain; a change in producers from Phil Collins to Russ Titelman has helped. But seeing how good guitar-playing can redeem bad tunesmanship only so much--and how Clapton's inexpressive voice redeems it not at all--he's once again at the mercy of the material he's picked, which doesn't find him journeying beyond his recent '80s-yups-with-CD-players-oriented boundaries near enough.
The better choices include one of Ray Charles' patented happy-sounding, horn-filled blues, "Hard Times"; a version of "Hound Dog" that comes close to what Ry Cooder or David Lindley might do with the oldie; another '50s relic, "Before You Accuse Me," one of several cuts to feature slide-vs.-slowhand dueling with Robert Cray, and, best of all, R&B faves Cecil and Linda Womack's "Lead Me On," with its writers joining in on vocals. This track is a moving ballad of jealousy that includes telling emotional details, something missing in all the other songs.