Having put his solo career on the back burner for 20 years, Sky Trails is Crosby’s third album since 2014 – not a bad work rate for a man who, aged 76, could be forgiven for taking things easy. And it’s a pleasure to report that he’s come up with something much more tangible than a mere phoned-in hash of former glories.
The opening She’s Got To Be Somewhere is an extraordinarily sprightly piece of music, its electric piano riff, guitar adornment and bursts of brass sounding for all the world like primo Steely Dan.
Post-CSN, one of the more gratifying stories of late is the re-emergence of David Crosby as a solo force. 2014’s Croz was his first album for a couple of decades, followed two years later by Lighthouse. Now comes Sky Trails, a record that suggests the 76-year-old’s muse is still in close attendance. Crosby, for his part, puts this new-found proliferation down to “a lot of pent-up creative juice”
Unlike the mostly acoustic-led Lighthouse, Sky Trails finds him in full band mode, engaging in a nuanced blend of folk, soul and jazz that echoes vintage triumphs like Guinnevere and Déjà Vu.
LOS ANGELES HAS BEEN rock music’s home of sun-kissed spiritual unease since Love and The Doors, stylistically peaking with the Asylum label’s slick jazzoid soft-rock and Joni Mitchell’s mid-’70s masterpieces. Her 1976 classic Amelia is the meditation of a specifically female solo flier, a gamble for a male to cover. Here LA native Crosby sings it with humility, a touching tribute from a 76-year-old veteran to his stricken comrade.
The free love generation’s favourite curmudgeon, the redoubtable David Crosby, follows up last years Lighthouse album with Sky Trails. Age doesn’t seem to be slowing him down too much; if two albums in just under a year weren’t enough, he’s about to start his umpteenth US tour with a band helmed by his son. But weren’t we all told that he’d be dead by now?
Well, he isn’t.
How else to explain that the least prolific member of the now defunct Crosby, Stills & Nash collective — he went from 1993 to 2014 without a solo studio album — has now released his second set of (mostly) original material in a year? Whether he’s feeling his mortality or has just revived a long dormant muse is unclear, but this is another quality installment in the ex-Byrds founding member’s somewhat thin catalog of solo items.
Those familiar with Crosby’s oblique, some might say experimental, approach to songwriting will appreciate the indie folk he leans towards on these 10 tracks. Don’t be fooled by the opening jazz-rocker “She’s Got to be Somewhere” that seems like Crosby has decided to channel his inner Steely Dan.
With all of his controversial, headline-garnering Twitter trolling, it’s easy to forget that David Crosby still makes music. But these days, he’s actually one of the more prolific artists of his generation. Crosby returned from a twenty year-long hiatus in 2014 with his fourth solo album, Croz—an impressive comeback and counterargument to the suggestion that creativity is a finite force.