David Crosby, “Amelia” from Sky Trails (2017): One Track Mind

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Sky Trails finds David Crosby continuing an exciting collaborative comeback already in evidence with his prior release, 2016’s Lighthouse. Here, Crosby delivers some of the best writing of his storied career. Part of the credit for the focus reflected on Sky Trails goes to his son, producer/keyboardist James Raymond.

Raymond’s song “She’s Got to Be Somewhere” is a perfect kick off to the album, setting the mood for everything that follows. Crosby is more than up to the challenge vocally, and the songs he’s co-written with Raymond, or co-written with Michael McDonald (yes, that Michael McDonald), Becca Steven or Mai Agan move Sky Trails forward convincingly.

Perhaps Crosby’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Amelia” would seem like an odd man out. Musically, James Raymond wisely chooses not to follow the arrangement of the iconic original. Instead, he positions the song around his piano and synthesizers, with touches of pedal steel – totally forgoing Mitchell’s delicate approach with electric and acoustic guitars. This arrangement is no less striking.

David Crosby seems almost naked without his guitar, yet still shines. In a voice that is both powerful and delicate, he effortlessly shifts the gender of the song on the third verse – but that too works, even if it’s perhaps unnecessary.

Maybe I’ve never really loved
I guess that is the truth
I’ve spent my whole life in clouds at icy altitudes
And looking down on everything
I crashed into her arms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

The song is a telling tribute to David Crosby’s dear friend Joni Mitchell, and also stands as another stellar cover of Mitchell by him. “Amelia” is a gem among gems.

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Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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