Stephen Stills & Judy Collins – Everybody Knows (2017)

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feature photo: Anna Webber

In a year when David Crosby reaped a bunch of praise for the third album in his remarkable comeback, his erstwhile partner Stephen Stills also deserves some credit for reminding us why we’ve admired him for the better part of half a century. But Everybody Knows isn’t a solo Stills album and it doesn’t even feature new material. Stills instead finds the fountain of youth by going back to one of his original muses, Judy Collins, who co-headlines this event.

A collection of old, familiar songs by — let’s be frank here — old singers isn’t usually the recipe for making a memorable record (though Tony Bennett does this all the time), but at the risk of sounding corny, the ‘old magic’ comes back for two of the most archetypal and beloved singer-songwriters of the Baby Boomer generation. The symmetry of the pure voice of Collins and the gruff one from Stills — who sounds less so here than on other recent recordings — has been honed over decades, a relationship that began as a romance and turned into something much more enduring. It was probably inevitable that the two would get together for a record, and Crosby, Stills & Nash being on ice afforded that opportunity at last.

Whether its Collins singing lead on her “River of Gold,” Stills taking the main voice for his “Questions” or both singing together on Stills’ “So Begins The Task,” they divvy up and share the singing chores in a very logical, natural way. Covers of other people’s songs include Bob Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country,” Tim Hardin’s “Reason To Believe” and this song the album is named after, a Leonard Cohen classic. I wasn’t sold at first at them taking a crack at The Traveling Wilburys’ “Handle With Care,” but it’s grown on me.

Those looking for “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” will be disappointed, but that disappointment oughta be mitigated with a more obscure Stills paean to Collins, “Judy.” Stills originally recorded this as part of a set of April 1968 Stills demos that finally saw the light of day in 2007 as Just Roll Tape. A fetching melody, great Collins harmonies and Stills’ deft fingerpicking guitar makes this a terrific consolation prize.

Sturdy strains, sleek production that’s not too sleek and, most of all, the combinations of two iconic voices of folk rock…Everybody Knows this has got to be good.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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