Sunday, December 29, 2013

David Crosby 3: Thousand Roads

Only four years after his second solo album, David Crosby appeared with a third installment. Could he really have written an album’s worth of songs in that time?

Unfortunately, as Thousand Roads proved, the answer was a big fat no. Not that it bothered him; he was happy to restrict himself to vocals, not even touching the guitar, and contributed exactly one solo composition in addition to two high-profile co-writes. The obvious selling point was the first single, “Hero”, not only written with Phil Collins but featuring him prominently on vocals. “Yvette In English” is a collaboration with Joni Mitchell, who would release her own version a year later; Crosby’s is laid-back, and a high point. The title track also has promise, something of a dirty blues with minimal drums and electric and acoustic dueling from Andy Fairweather-Low and Bernie Leadon respectively.

Every other song was written by somebody else, all strictly in the adult contemporary mode, yet with sensitive hippie ideals and themes close to his heart. “Too Young To Die” comes from Jimmy Webb, of all people, and is about driving fast, as opposed to Stephen Bishop’s closing tearjerker “Natalie”, about an OD victim. Marc Cohn and John Hiatt, both decent writers whose commercial high points were already behind them, are featured in the first half, and the genre’s favorite unknown songwriter, Paul Brady, gets a spot in the second half, as does a writer who’d recently given a couple of hits to Bonnie Raitt.

Throughout the album, Graham Nash pops up to harmonize with his buddy, and help remind the listener who’s album it is. Anyone looking for a pleasant MOR album for upscale suburban afternoon will enjoy it, but coming from the legacy of David Crosby, even considering CSN’s lightweight tendencies, Thousand Roads is a dead end. (Yeah, we said it.)

Amazingly, his brief promotional tour for the album highlighted two new original songs, both of which appeared on It’s All Coming Back To Me Now…, an entertaining document of a night at the Whisky A Go Go. “Rusty & Blue” is a decent meditation with nice atmospherics by Jeff Pevar, while “Till It Shines On You” would get a full CSN treatment soon enough. Lengthy explorations on tunes from the ‘60s and ‘70s fill out the package, and not only does Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes come out to mewl on “Almost Cut My Hair”, good ol’ Graham Nash shows up for that extra bit of excitement. (The album title mystifies, as it’s likely Crosby hadn’t heard the song that Celine Dion would scream to the top of the charts in a few years’ time.)

David Crosby Thousand Roads (1993)—2
David Crosby
It’s All Coming Back To Me Now… (1995)—3

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