Al Stewart

A Beach Full of Shells

8 p.m. Thursday, December 15; $20. The Palms, 13 Main Street in Winters,, (530) 795-1825.

Nope, Al Stewart’s career didn’t end with the 1978 best-selling album Time Passages. Mid-way through his fourth decade in music, Stewart continues to create pop- and folk-infused soft rock worthy of careful listening. His lyrics are complex, playful and chock full of historical and literary references. In A Beach Full of Shells, Stewart takes on flight (again); “The Immelman Turn,” an aviation anthem reminiscent of “Flying Sorcery” (from 1976’s hit album Year of the Cat) is wistful and sweet. His voice doesn’t seem to have aged at all; it retains his smooth, easy tones. The arrangements are straight-up pop with the deft touch of a string quartet. And who else would ever rhyme “amanuensis” with “pretenses,” as Stewart does in “Royal Courtship”? It’s music for book nerds, but it’s good.