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Music Review: David Crosby taps talented friends ‘For Free’

July 19, 2021 GMT
This cover image released by BMG shows "For Free" by David Crosby. (BMG via AP)
This cover image released by BMG shows "For Free" by David Crosby. (BMG via AP)
This cover image released by BMG shows "For Free" by David Crosby. (BMG via AP)

“For Free,” by David Crosby (BMG)

David Crosby gets by with a little help from his friends, including Donald Fagen of Steely Dan and former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald, on “For Free,” a deeply felt, and expertly conceived album that drops just shy of Croz’s 80th birthday.

Crosby’s son, James Raymond, produced the album and also penned the touching final track “I Won’t Stay for Long.”

“I’m facing the squall line/Of a thousand year storm,” Crosby sings. “I don’t know if I’m dying/Or about to be born but/I’d like to be with you today.”

His voice sounds as strong as ever on the slickly produced record that sounds both current and at times like a 1970s time capsule.

That’s most true on the Fagen-written “Rodriguez For a Night,” which could easily have found a home on a Steely Dan album. McDonald, the grandfather of the smooth light rock sound known as yacht rock, lends his backing vocals to “River Rise,” the soaring album opener, which he also co-wrote.

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On the beautiful title track, “For Free,” Crosby returns to the 1970 Joni Mitchell song that he also sang as a member of The Byrds in 1973. This time he’s joined by Texas singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz on a pared down version that’s more faithful to the original.

It’s a highlight on a solid effort that finds Crosby hitting emotional highs in the twilight of his storied career.