This record is David Crosby’s first solo album and is about as good as it gets. Crosby, a founding member of the Byrds, had pushed many musical limits with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, but found himself with the time to begin working on his own music in the mid-1970s. He cornered Stephen Barncard, only an assistant mixer on Déjà vu, and created some of the most beautiful, memorable music of the time. Crosby was dealing with the tragic death of a girlfriend, the Vietnam War, drug deaths of many of his contemporaries, and the Manson murders. With all this drama he was able to create music that washes over the listener while still providing a powerful message. The included booklet contains a song-by-song commentary by Crosby (with additional comments by Barncard) for greater background on the music.
Some of the songs (i.e. “Cowboy Movie”) are constructed more like short stories set to music while others go in quite different directions. “Tamalpais High (At About 3)” is a mellow, flowing 70s instrumental that makes the listener think about another time—one that doesn’t exist anymore. “Traction in the Rain” offers up an awesome sense of space and definition. Vocals just float like clouds between the speakers and the listener is completely immersed in the soundfield. The bonus track keeps in the spirit of the rest of the album, which, at the end, takes on a truly spiritual feel. Listening to this record may just well be a religious experience (see track nine) for some. I know this has become one of my favorite records.
This is a special two-disc set that includes a CD with HDCD encoding and a DVD-A disc with both DVD-A stereo and multichannel tracks, a DTS 5.1 track, and Dolby Stereo plus a DD 5.1 track as well. The surround track is highly recommended and will give listeners an exciting, enveloping, highly enjoyable musical experience. The first track starts off with much of the sound coming from the front and as the track nears completion the concentration of the sound moves more predominantly into the back channels. It introduces the listener to what will be an entirely seductive aura of sound. Overall the sound was A-/A quality with few sections of mediocre quality characterized by distortion and difficulty hearing vocals, etc.
Extras on this disc include: 11 Photos; Lyrics; and An Interview with Stephen Barncard that is over 30 screens worth of information about the record’s production, what it was like working with the performers, technical information about the studio, and bits about Jerry Garcia and others involved in American Beauty.
SongList: Music Is Love; Cowboy Movie; Tamalpais High (At About 3); Laughing; What Are Their Names; Traction In The Rain; Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves); Orleans; I’d Swear There Was Somebody Here. Bonus Track: Kids And Dogs.
– Brian Bloom