Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Crosby & Nash 5: Crosby-Nash

They could wait around for Neil to call, or see if Stephen wanted to do anything. Instead, while not exactly teeming with songs dying to be recorded, Crosby and Nash hooked up with some old and new friends for their first duo album in over 25 years.
And not just any album; Crosby-Nash was spread across two discs—one 45 minutes, the other half an hour—to give the impression that they really were teeming with songs dying to be recorded. They start strong with “Lay Me Down” and “Puppeteer”, both from the pen of James Raymond, Crosby’s long-lost son, with whom he’d reconnected in the mid-‘90s and started collaborating almost immediately. After that it gets pretty quiet—a little too quiet, especially if you’re waiting for an “Almost Cut My Hair” to blow the roof off the proceedings. Instead we get more immaculately recorded adult contemporary pop designed to accompany a gently swaying sailboat. Things pick up whenever the two harmonize, but as usual, they write separately or with anybody else in the band but each other, and cover people like Marc Cohn.
There’s nothing wrong with quiet and pretty; “Grace” is a very pretty piano interlude, but it’s used to set up an inferior song. “Luck Dragon” (again, written with James Raymond) comes close to rocking, while “Don’t Dig Here” (also written with guess who) gives Graham a chance to lament the environment over a riff that eventually rips off “Come Together”. “Michael (Hedges Here)” is a shaky but well-intentioned tribute to the late guitarist, who’s also credited with the arrangement of “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee” that closes the set.
Graham’s getting a little mushmouthed in his old age, and Crosby’s mellowed right with him, only the anger he used to exercise is now demonstrated by the warmed-over Steely Dan of “They Want It All”. He spends five minutes on the scat-sung “How Does It Shine?” (The answer: not as brightly as “Song With No Words” or even “Orleans”), the last minute or so turning into a faux-samba for anybody who misses Stephen Stills’ forays into the same. “Samurai” is an a cappella piece that obviously means something to him.
A shuffled “highlights” disc was made available around the same time, leaving some of us to wonder why they didn’t just leave it at that. Rather than alternating between the guys, the sequencing goes two and two, adding to the general tedium. Being the 21st century, it sounds great, thanks to ProTools and close miking. But there’s not a lot here that will compete with their old stuff.

Crosby-Nash Crosby-Nash (2004)—

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