Relevant and Modern? David Crosby's Newest Album, Here If You Listen
It is rare for a 70-something singer from the mid-60s to be able to convincingly continue their career into the 21st century.
Sure, the Rolling Stones are still touring, but does anyone really want them to? It is even rarer for said singer to have produced some of their most interesting and relevant music so late in their career, but David Crosby seems to have managed it with Here If You Listen, released on October 26th.
Not so much a solo project as a collaborative effort, Here If You Listen sees Crosby reunite with the Lighthouse Band, consisting of Michael League, Becca Stevens and Michelle Willis, which he assembled for his 2016 album Lighthouse. Working with a younger generation of musicians most famous from the US jazz-fusion scene seems to have been responsible for Crosby’s late-career resurgence – Here If You Listen manages to be reminiscent of the Byrds and Joni Mitchell whilst keeping a contemporary relevance and looking to the future.
‘Here If You Listen’ balances a sense of nostalgia with optimism.
The atmospheric guitar playing and rich vocal harmonies of ‘Glory’ clearly establish the album’s sound, maintained through the second track ‘Vagrant of Venice’ where Crosby paints a haunting image of the consequences of climate change. ‘1974’ and the later ‘1967’, both built up from demos recorded by Crosby in those years, create haunting interplay between the past and present and deal with timeless issues in a modern context.
Other highlights are the pointedly political ‘Other Half Rule’, which challenges the power held by ‘rocket man and little hands’, and the funk-influenced keyboard playing on ‘Janet’. Crosby’s musical influences, perhaps inspired by the other members of his Lighthouse Band, range from traditional folk to funk, with a consistent emphasis on rich close vocal harmony. Closing with a beautiful cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’ (first recorded by Crosby alongside Stephen Stills and Graham Nash in 1970), Here If You Listen balances a sense of nostalgia with optimism. Crosby has rooted his music firmly within his legacy yet, far from ‘thinking about dying’ as he claims to be in ‘Your Own Ride’, has managed to create a relevant and modern album.