Monday, August 18, 2014

David Crosby 6: Croz

Right about when nobody was expecting it, David Crosby released only his fourth solo album in a four-decade span. Granted, he’d done two albums with the CPR project, but his last collection of new songs was half of another duo album with Graham Nash a decade before. Luckily for performer and listener alike, Croz is laid-back and natural, like visiting with an old friend.

James Raymond is still his main collaborator, and he wrote several songs, including the opening “What’s Broken”. This features a very subtle contribution from Mark Knopfler; you have to listen very closely before it’s clear that it’s really him. Social commentary comes early with “Time I Have”, mostly in the same tempo, but with much more obtrusive guitar from Shane Fontayne. “Holding On To Nothing” is more contemplative, and this time the guest soloist is Wynton Marsalis, flown in from Lincoln Center. The tempo picks up and the meter gets intricate for Raymond’s “The Clearing”, with nice voicings built in. Nautical metaphors dominate “Radio”, which has a wonderful and dare we say inspiring chorus. “Slice Of Time” is poetic and pleasant.

“Set That Baggage Down” has some almost funky guitars courtesy of co-writer Fontayne, and Crosby plays one for the only time on the album on the haunting portrait of “If She Called”. The stripped-down approach makes this one a highlight. The drum machine sadly undercuts the piano on “Dangerous Night”, especially through earbuds, but the harmony on the chorus helps you forget as the song progresses. The instrumentation on “Morning Falling” seems transported from a ‘90s Sting album, but it’s a nice sound for him. Graham Nash probably wishes he could have sung on “Find A Heart”; the soprano sax and jazzy meter keep the Sting connotation going, and in a good way.

Croz is a nice surprise—not stellar, but welcome. Despite how he wrecked his health for so many years, he’s still in terrific voice. If anything we wish we heard more of his guitar rather than let the hired guns play all the parts.

David Crosby Croz (2014)—3

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