Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Graham Nash 7: This Path Tonight

One might think Graham Nash was busy curating his past, between CSN-related box sets, printing old photos, and writing a memoir in which he extolled the genius of his partners and his happy existence as a family man. But within a few years, he’d left his wife, took up with a younger woman, and vowed to never work with David Crosby again. He also made his first solo album in fourteen years.

This Path Tonight is notable among his work in that it was written completely in collaboration with another, lesser-known musician. Oddly, that musician was Shane Fontayne, who’d been a large presence on David Crosby’s most recent first-album-in-years. Nonetheless, it was a smart move, as Graham has a tendency to play in a very small sandbox.

The title track and “Myself At Last” cover the same basic metaphorical ground as depicted on the cover (hint: he’s on a lonely road and traveling, traveling, traveling), alternately edgy and contemplative. “Cracks In The City” and “Beneath The Waves” both consider the ongoing struggles humanity in such a cruel world, and to some extent, so does “Fire Down Below”, but it stands out thanks to a vibe more along the lines of his mid-‘70s work. “Another Broken Heart” would seem to be designed to comfort the woman he left, but comes off more berating than sympathetic.

He finally seems to address his future in “Target” with its blatantly phallic imagery of what he’s going to do with his bow and arrow. Then, he looks back at when he “used to be in a band” and music was all anybody needed in “Golden Days”. There’s a sad fake string arrangement here, and that mood continues on “Back Home”, a blunt examination of the end of life, on which “Encore” expands more kindly, touching on passing lovers, friends, and concerts. Only on the digital and download versions of the album does he get political, with the racial charged “Mississippi Burning” and “Watch Out For The Wind”, while “The Last Fall” is another melancholy end-of-relationship tune.

Throughout This Path Tonight, the band is well-placed and the production provides good atmosphere. While it isn’t a masterpiece, it is strikingly fresh in places, making it his most worthwhile solo album since his first.

Graham Nash This Path Tonight (2016)—3

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