tue 24/10/2017

CD: David Crosby - Sky Trails | reviews, news & interviews

CD: David Crosby - Sky Trails

CD: David Crosby - Sky Trails

Crosby and son jazz it up with superb results

David Crosby might be entering life’s twilight but, like a tired drummer, he seems to be speeding up towards the end. Perhaps he’s simply hit a rich vein of form – the success, both artistic and critical, of 2014’s Croz, and the 2016 follow-up, Lighthouse, certainly suggest that he has. But one can’t help wondering whether the quickening of the pace is also down to a sense of time running out.

If anything, this new creative burst feels more like a rebirth than the end of anything and the dichotomy this presents is not something lost on Crosby. The lilting rise and fall of “Here It’s Almost Sunset” is as candid as Crosby gets: "Here it's almost sunset, So why is the sun shining brighter? How can that be? How can I still see?" he asks, as if he can’t believe his luck at where he's ended up. The track sits right at the centre of the album, alongside “Capitol”, a blistering, direct attack on Congress that combines a youthful fire with mature and complex musicality. 

Speaking of mature and complex musicality, there’s a lot of jazz creeping in on Sky Trails. Chords are extended, and songs that could easily have remained simple, satisfying outlines are richly coloured in to create more depth and texture. This is most successful on slick opener “She’s Got To Be Somewhere”, which wouldn’t sound out of place on Steely Dan’s Peg, and “Sell Me a Diamond” with a rolling, Vince Guaraldi-esque piano underpinning a laid-back and soulful groove that manages to tread the delicate line between sincere and po-faced with confidence. 

A cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Amelia”, from her 1976 jazz-influenced album Hejira, sits comfortably with the originals here – particularly the langurous jazz-folk of the title track (think Espers covering Terry Callier), and that’s about as high a compliment as any singer/songwriter can ever get. Crosby, of course, knows this better than most. 

In fact, it’s only “Before Tomorrow Falls on Love” that misses the mark. Written with Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers singer Michael McDonald, it sounds like something Elton John might have cobbled together for a Disney musical about Laurel Canyon, and sticks out like a sore thumb among far better work. 

It never comes close to dampening the spirit though. Crosby’s songwriting partnership with his son, James Raymond, shows no sign of flagging, in fact it could yet prove the most productive of Crosby’s stellar career.

@jahshabby

Crosby’s songwriting partnership with his son, James Raymond, shows no sign of flagging

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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