woensdag 12 maart 2014

Croz. David Crosby

A new album by David Crosby was not exactly what I had expected to review. A dinosaur from the past, who not too long ago made a nice rock, jazzy album with CPR, but not something I looked forward to in any way. I decided to give Croz a try anyway and was surprised and soon after mesmerised. David Crosby has found material for a great new record within himself and unleashed it on the world in 2014. Croz is not a cruise down memory lane, as a friend suggested to me after I told him of my discovery. David Crosby is simply not among my favourite artists from way back. As a member of The Byrds, yes, as part of CSNY, yes, even as part of CPR, but never as a solo or even duo artist with Graham Nash. That's why Croz surprised me so much. I always loved the harmony singing David Crosby was involved in. That quality of not seeming to be there and at the same time making the harmonies perfect.

David Crosby is a senior citizen by now. Born in 1941. There is still a hint of the old hippie and activist in there, but also reflection on old age. 'If she called', just an acoustic guitar and the voice of an older man, looking at the life of an old lady, all alone, drifting passed present life and memories of days gone by. (Reading up on Croz, it turns out the song is about young prostitutes somewhere in Belgium. There I go with interpreting lyrics.)

The songs on Croz are hard to define. They are David Crosby songs, without a doubt, like he makes them for over forty years now. It isn't rock, it isn't pop. it's not jazz nor west coast rock. It is a mix of all these genres, blended into David Crosby music. That is the only correct description I can give. David Crosby songs are at best mid tempo. Intricately played, not your every day chords (changes) or so it seems. If they are, that would make it even more brilliant. Small eruptions by some instrument underscore an emotion in the lyrics. Together it creates Croz, a warm, involved, treasure of an album. Musically it is as suave as Leonard Cohen's band in his live triumphs of the past years.

Adding this all up nothing new is happening on Croz. David Crosby probably hasn't changed musically since the 70s, the digital drums in 'Dangerous night' not withstanding. If any artist can write and play an album like Croz after being in the business for roughly 50 years, that comment about evolving, becomes mute. This is a show piece of quality on parade. Together with his son James Raymond, the R in CPR, Croz was created. It could have been a new CPR album. Next to elements of Steely Dan. 'Find a heart' could have been on a Steely Dan/Donald Fagen album. The style of piano playing gives the influence away. Croz has a star role for Mark Knopfler in 'What's broken'. His intricate playing, without ever really taking the centre stage, really brings the track very much alive. But no matter what is going on, it is the harmonies that I like most. Crosby sings with himself and does it extremely well.

To be honest, Croz is one of the most unexpected surprises I've heard in years. Although the show by CPR I saw on tv years ago, should have come as a warning, it didn't. Croz is an album very much worth listening to.


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