Album review: DAVID CROSBY – For Free


BMG [Release date 23.07.21]

David Crosby has been prolific as a recording artist, despite various health issues, and he is back with his fifth solo album since 2014. Joining Crosby on the record are Michael McDonald, Donald Fagen, Sarah Jarosz and his son James Raymond, who also served as the album’s producer. Joan Baez painted the cover artwork.

The single ‘River Rise’ has the musical fingerprints of Michael McDonald all over it, hardly surprising as he co-wrote it with Raymond and added his distinctive vocals to this piece of West Coast musical sunshine.

The jazzier side of Crosby comes out on ‘Rodriguez For A Night’, written by Donald Fagen (Steely Dan are Crosby’s favourite band). ‘Shot At Me’ just goes to show that Crosby has lost none of his vocal power. Songs like this are pretty timeless and wonderful to hear again and again.

The title track, a cover of Joni Mitchell’s song, is a wonderful piece of music and a great version of the song. The song also features a few of the musicians who had joined Crosby on 2017’s ‘Sky Trails’, including saxophonist Steve Tavaglione and drummer Steve DiStanislao. Sarah Jarosz duets with Crosby on this one adding a little bit of extra magic to the song.

‘I Won’t Stay For Long’ is written by his son James Raymond and contains the album’s vocal tour de force. Crosby really packs some emotion into his performance on this one, helped by the sparse musical arrangement of just piano, trumpet and gentle percussion.

David Crosby still has his wonderfully harmonic vocal, which is instantly identifiable and a definition of the classic West Coast sound. A wonderful listen from start to finish. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

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