Saturday, November 30, 2013

Stephen Stills 10: Stills Alone

It was all too telling that when Stephen Stills got around to releasing another solo album, it was on a tiny independent label, ran about half and hour, and was a mix of originals and covers, several of which are revisits. Even with all that against it, Stills Alone reminded people exactly what he could do. The title says it all: he sings and plays acoustic guitar by himself, occasionally overdubbing a lead electric or harmony, and in one case, percussion.
The originals are excellent. “Isn’t It So” and “Just Isn’t Like You” are both lovely and sad meditations on love with subtle touches, like the Buffalo Springfield flourish at the end of the former. “The Right Girl” is a delightful country-tinged strum thankfully absent of any production touches that could ruin it. “Amazonia” lets him explore his Latin fascination via some clich├ęs about saving the rainforest, while the excellent “Treetop Flyer” makes its first appearance on a Stills album. His cover choices are mixed; “Everybody’s Talkin’” had been in his repertoire for years, but “In My Life” is surprisingly effective, just as “Ballad Of Hollis Brown” could have been a decent blues workout but isn’t. “Blind Fiddler Medley” deftly weaves the traditional song into his own “Do Unto Others” and “Know You Got To Run”.
Stills Alone was such a nice surprise, and as a further middle finger to those who’d written him off—guilty as charged—it’s now impossible to find unless you’re willing to shell out the bucks.

Stephen Stills Stills Alone (1991)—3

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