Friday, January 10, 2014

CSN 10: After The Storm

Even though nobody was asking for a new CSN album, they did one anyway. What was surprising was that they paid some attention to the backlash the greeted their last new set and, save one cut, kept the writing strictly in-house on After The Storm. Everybody sings on everyone’s tunes, too.
Stills is in relatively decent voice, but his tracks are hit or miss. Two Latin-tinged numbers bookend the album; “Only Waiting For You” leans too close to adult contemporary, while the excruciating “Panama” makes one even more squeamish as he recalls how a local girl made him a man. “It Won’t Go Away” and “Bad Boyz” are returns to social commentary, somewhat, though the former is too funky, and the latter, while rocking, shouldn’t be spelled that way by anyone over 30.
Nash comes off the best, mostly. “Find A Dream” and “These Empty Days” are both lifted by the harmonies—Stills being prominent, rare for Nash songs—whereas the simple, affecting “Unequal Love” sports some nice Stills leads straight out of Buffalo Springfield. When those are added to the title track, one wonders if everything is all right at home.
Having written very little for his own album the year before, Crosby kept up with the others by contributing a nearly equal pile of songs—in quantity, anyway. “Camera” has some decent imagery, but is slathered with cowbell and other Latin percussion; Stills gets co-writing credit so we’ll blame him. “Till It Shines” also gives Stills plenty of room to wail, up against Mike Finnegan’s organ. He does his own bit to decry social issues on “Street To Lean On”, which supposedly has Michael Hedges on guitar, but we can’t hear him.
Possibly the best track is their harmony-rich cover of “In My Life”, which Stills had done on his last solo album. Wisely, they stick to the chords, let a harmonica play the main riff, and leave it at that.
While mostly an improvement, that eternal blend that captured the world is only hinted at on After The Storm. They’ll always be able to lean on their old albums, which is just as well, since this one didn’t sell.

Crosby, Stills & Nash After The Storm (1994)—

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