David Crosby has had a legendary career, and had an essential part in the creation and development of folk rock. He started his career in the early sixties. He first became prominent with the Byrds (Turn! Turn! Turn! and Mr. Tambourine Man). He reached his peak of success in Crosby, Stills, Nash, and sometimes Young. He wrote some of their most lasting songs including “Wooden Ships”, “The Lee Shore”, “Long Time Gone”, “Deja Vu”, and “Almost Cut My Hair”. In addition to his involvement in these groups, Crosby has released five solo albums.
His new album Lighthouse is quite intimate and dreamlike. Most of the album contains David’s still angelic airy voice coupled with acoustic guitar. As Crosby’s voice rises and falls with the melody, so does his guitar; often the sound is sparse. To oppose the sparsity found so often, the album includes dominating harmonies that fill up all available space. True to Crosby’s roots, many of the songs feature a 12-string guitar, providing ethereal licks and spaced out strums. This is especially true on the opening track “Things We Do For Love” which begins with a 6-string acoustic riff that repeats beneath the rest of the sounds, until it is traded for a similar lick on a 12-string. Crosby’s new album in no sense feels like a record of an outdated musician. It is more akin to Bon Iver’s first two albums than David Crosby’s classic debut album If I Could Only Remember My Name of 1971 which is as much a hippie feel good rock album as a folk album. The dreamy aloof feeling of the album is also comparable to Sufjan Stevens 2015 release Carrie & Lowell. Like Stevens album, airy vocals, and wispy finger picking fill the album, but unlike Stevens heart wrenching album about the loss of his mother, full of lyrical imagery of a man truly suffering, and in pain, Crosby’s lyrics are uninspired, and quickly forgotten.
Lighthouse Is easy to listen to, and may find a place in many playlists full of dreamy acoustics. It is exciting to see a 75 year old legend continue his career, and to hear him change his work to fit modernity. However it is hard for the listener to find themselves entranced too long. The album molds together so seamlessly, and takes little creative risk.