David Crosby – Croz (2014)

Croz is David Crosby’s first solo album since Thousand Roads was released in 1993, and it finds Crosby in a different place than 20 years ago. These days his main musical collaborator and muse is his son James Raymond, who was reunited with Crosby in the early 1990s. The highly talented Raymond co-writes, plays and co-produces the LP with his father.

The results are a laid back and jazzy affair, brimming with sparkling acoustic guitars and crisp harmonies. While the husky power of Crosby’s early CSNY voice may have weathered over time, his still perfect navigation of unique chord changes and his innate ability to create an exclusively special vocal blend with anyone he performs with remains. Croz contains a moody and concentrated looseness in which Crosby smoothly layers a number of timeless vocal performances.

James Raymond has added a few musicians in addition to his own efforts, yet even with the new blood, this still sounds and remains uniquely Crosby. The son surely has the key to pulling out the best performances from his old man, as well as highlighting his strengths. In addition to the younger contemporary group of backing musicians helping out, Crosby’s folk, jazz, and psychedelic sides all flash their reflections in the glass of the recording. His recognizable ocean breeze melodies still swell buoyantly and his joyous abilities are undiminished.

From the sneaky opening track “What’s Broken,” which shifts on a pulsing bass and beautifully circular Mark Knopfler guitar contribution, through the rolling orchestrated folk of “Morning Falling,” Croz navigates a cross-section of the influences Crosby has used as touchstones throughout his career. “Holding On To Nothing” features a welcome appearance by Wynton Marsalis, “Slice of Time” harkens back to Crosby’s mid-1970s work and “Radio” deals with Crosby’s favorite subject — the sea.

“If She Called” is a true highlight, a shimmering quintessential slice of Crosby: slightly weird, with a transparent melody that moves like mist through a spotlight. The song, similarly to Crosby’s best, breathes organically, moves naturally and is composed dynamically of moments of silence.

The record closes perfectly with the morphing time signatures of “Find a Heart.” Rock veteran Leland Sklar makes an appearance on this song, adding his usual heady bass lines. When the song reaches full blossom over its chunky groove, beaming wordless vocal lines and horn licks fire off over the churning rhythm, bringing the album to a proper ending.

Croz is the creation of an artist comfortable with his legacy, one who’s continuing to make music because he is moved to do it. The sympathetic instrumentation and signature Crosby vocal arrangements are the strengths of the record. Meanwhile, the collaboration with his son has strengthened Crosby’s already existing abilities, resulting in a finely crafted album. The intricacies to be found here are many.

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Stephen Lewis

A creative writing major at SUNY Brockport and freelance writer from Upstate New York, Stephen Lewis maintains a music-focused site called Talk From the Rock Room: thefrodisroomrockblog.blogspot.com. He has also written for UpstateLive Music Guide and Ultimate Classic Rock. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.