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Crosby’s first solo album in two decades is an emotional voyage

In support of his new album, David Crosby is playing five sold-out dates at the Troubadour in Los Angeles.

MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS

2.5 out of 4 stars

Title
Croz
Artist
David Crosby
Label
Blue Castle
Genre
Rock
Year
2014

He almost died, at least twice. He almost cut his hair, once. He survived Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, but not the Byrds. He got high – Eight Miles High – before the big drop. The cat really shouldn't be here, but most everyone is cool with the fact that he is.

"Who wants to see an abandoned soul?" David Crosby sings on the opening track to his first solo album since 1993's Thousand Roads. "Who wants to know what desperate is?"

Who wants to know? A songwriter always does. The tune is What's Broken, with Crosby posing a questioning refrain that wonders who would buy damaged goods. Well, a lot of us would, and do, sometimes at our own peril. Some of us want to fix things, and others are romantic about the wrecks. Breaking bad and all that.

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So Crosby's a survivor. But Croz, his album, is a bit of a snoozer – often beautifully thoughtful and pleasantly soulful, mind you, but without the haunting quality that marks Crosby's best work. There's a sandy, immaculate, soft and smooth sameness to much of the material. We'll say it is serene, and that tranquility is Croz's best thing.

I forgot to mention that Mark Knopfler picks a few fluid notes on What's Broken. Lovely, impeccable stuff, as you might imagine.

The album, two years in the making, was partly recorded in Jackson Browne's studio in Santa Monica, Calif. "If there is a unifying theme, it's that they're all about human beings," Crosby told Rolling Stone about the collection of songs. "When you get to the end of the album, you've really gone on an emotional voyage."

Emotional, perhaps. But the sailing is musically straight and on course – none of the old Wooden Ships weirdness here. Checked the crew roster, but nope, no Christopher Cross on board. Could have fooled me.

Time I Have recalls Joni Mitchell, with whom Crosby once had a time. The lightly bongoed beauty is about making best use of your stretch here on Earth, and makes the point that fear is the antithesis of peace. He actually sings "antithesis," and gets away with it. It's autobiographical, about dreams still alive and with a line about the rulers of little kingdoms who hate the old man in the road and put up roadblocks to impede him. "Does that sound familiar to you?" Crosby asks. It does. Makes me think of Pete Seeger, though, not Crosby.

On the piano-dappled Radio, the message is to reach your hand into the water and pull someone out of the sea. Set That Baggage Down has a trebly guitar edge and a classic CSN feel, but the lyrics are life-coaching.

Listened to the tame, pop-leaning Dangerous Night and again checked the crew roster. No Cross listed – he's obviously a stowaway.

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Crosby's clear tenor is still intact. Apparently he's a hell of a guy, and he's got five sold-out shows coming up at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. His autobiographical volumes are Long Time Gone and Since Then: How I Survived Everything and Lived to Tell About It. I'll wait until the movie comes out.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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