Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Graham Nash 5: Songs For Survivors

For the first time, the winner of the “who’s gonna be the first of CSN to do a solo album” contest went to Graham Nash, though apparently it took him two years to find a label that would distribute it. The nod to the title of his first solo album 30 years before is clever, but as with most sequels, Songs For Survivors has a high hill to climb.
The first drawback is his voice, which shows the effect of time, and gets in the way when he tries to sound sincere. “Dirty Little Secret” is a strong opener, referencing the specter of racism, but “Blizzard Of Lies” and “Lost Another One” are just too cheerful musically to match the lyric content. It’s dangerous for anyone but Leonard Cohen to write about “The Chelsea Hotel”, but at least he stays away from overt references to that song (or Joni’s “Chelsea Morning”, for that matter), choosing instead to celebrate the artists who led mostly bleak lives there. Just when you think he couldn’t possibly still be sappy, “I’ll Be There For You” is the pick-me-up nobody we know requested. (Maybe it got somebody through a crisis, which would be fine.) “Nothing In The World” delivers the same sentiment, but it’s a better song all around.
“Where Love Lies Tonight” is pure ‘70s James Taylor, if you like that sort of thing, but the cover of Richard and Linda Thompson’s “Pavanne”, featuring harmonies from one Sydney Forest, is particularly surprising, and very nice. “Liar’s Nightmare” may sound like it rips off “Masters Of War”, but since that stole the melody of the traditional “Nottamun Town”, no harm no foul. Despite the length, it’s the best tune on the album, and somehow makes “Come With Me” bearable.
Despite all we’ve said, Songs For Survivors is still one of his better solo albums, though that’s considering how thin the competition is. Soundwise the production is commendable, thanks to the father-son team of Russ and Nathaniel Kunkel, while instrumental support from the likes of Matt Rollings, Dean Parks, and Viktor Krauss is understated and more than competent.

Graham Nash Songs For Survivors (2002)—3

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