Review: David Crosby’s ‘Sky Trails’ evokes pal Joni Mitchell
David Crosby, “Sky Trails” (BMG)
After decades of groups and collaborations, David Crosby’s solo career has found a second (or fifth?) wind and “Sky Trails,” his third album since 2015, continues the streak of quality in the quantity.
There’s a direct link to Joni Mitchell in a cover of her “Amelia,” one of her greatest songs, but just as the connection between them goes back some 50 years — Crosby produced Mitchell’s 1968 debut — her influence, whether or subtle or obvious, musical or lyrical, can be heard across much of the album.
Crosby has frequently found inspiration in current affairs and now he targets the lawmaking machinery on “Capitol,” a tune whose indignation will drip down your earbuds. “Sell Me a Diamond” also starts off topical but Crosby also finds more personal and delicate aspects to the term “conflict-free.”
Credit for the album’s success also goes to producer James Raymond, who reconnected with dad Crosby some 30 years after being given up for adoption in the early 1960s and has become a regular collaborator in the studio and a frequent songwriting partner.
Their “Curved Air” has a flamenco guitar feel that Raymond created on keyboards and subtle use of the vocoder while “She’s Got to Be Somewhere” is a dead ringer for “Gaucho”-era Steely Dan. “Here It’s Almost Sunset” could be from Mitchell’s 1982 “Wild Things Run Fast,” with Steve Tavaglione’s rousing soprano sax taking on the Wayne Shorter role.
Closer “Home Free” is a particular highlight, a meditative, heartfelt song Crosby wrote for “Little Pink House,” a film about a woman who loses her house in a case of eminent domain.
Crosby says he doesn’t want to take his latest gushes of creativity for granted and “Sky Trails” is an excellent batch of tunes to continue appreciating and enjoying his talents.