+1 the first album often comes out of a long early life time and is often the first essential expression of this is me arriving. There are less constraints coming in so there may be more freedom and often no expectations or preconceptions from your audience.
Also if the first album is really good then that builds the platform for the second album where the sophomore is judged like a make or break album which might make creating it within a commercial framework and timescale daunting.
Also some completely peak at the first step and then don’t cope with the shift to the next phase (past initial establishment) through to the later development phases of maturing (that can also bring amazing developmental growth).
Growing into your skin can be hard for artists and the self destructing artist that simply doesn’t make it past their late twenties literally is a prolific and very tragic thing in the world of music. Quite probably related to the reality of success and fame from artistically emerging with that first big breakout album and then transitioning into the realities of coping with the pressures and expectation of ongoing success in the commercial world. The whole creative platform can shift in nature and complexity completely and that can then impact on the end quality of the work.
Ultimately maturation can be an extraordinary thing for the artist and the late works of great musicians can be very different but also the opus of the great work and summative culmination.
So if you are a young Rickie Lee Jones wandering around LA looking for your first album deal and a studio approaches you and says let do an album and look who your studio musicians are going to be, how could you say no! Absolutely the best of the best! Mr Gadd and his list of top 5 is an impressive resume. All kinds of jazz influence in this album.