Just Like Gravity
First Appeared at The Music Box, August 2001, Volume 8, #8
Written by John Metzger
David Crosby is a legend. His golden-hued voice has graced many classic albums, and over the course of his career, his exquisitely unique songwriting style has brought him much critical praise. Sure, he also has released his share of albums that failed to live up to expectations, but this can be blamed as much on his dark, overpowering drug-addiction as on the faded chemistry with his chosen bandmates.
But both of these problems are now a thing of the past, and Crosby is unquestionably back in full force. He lent several powerful tracks to the CSNY reunion disc (Looking Forward), and the latest release by his new group CPR (Just Like Gravity) is his best outing in, well, decades. Where CPR's debut was a polished and somewhat constrained affair, Just Like Gravity gushes with passion, ingenuity, and that old Crosby magic. Better still, the disc is a true collaboration among CPR's members — Crosby, his son James Raymond, and guitarist Jeff Pevar.
Just Like Gravity begins with the warm, radio-friendly Map to Buried Treasure and it concludes with Crosby's ponderous solo turn on the disc's title track. In between, the album flows beautifully, hanging together around a loose blend of jazz, rock, and pop as well as deeply personal lyrics that explore the familiar Crosby musings on the state of the heart and the state of the world.
There's no doubt that Raymond has learned a lot from his father, but it can also be said that Crosby has taken tremendous inspiration from his son. Together, their voices mesh in perfect harmony as on the airy jazz of Breathless (which sounds like a lost track from CSN's eponymous 1977 release) and the aching, haunting highlight Eyes Too Blue. And, their frequent vocal exchanges often play out like a dialogue, giving the songs remarkable dimensionality and meaning. In addition, Raymond's keyboard flourishes often provide the impetus for many of the tracks, propelling Map to Buried Treasure through an ebullient jazz-rock groove and coloring Darkness with shadowy shades of light.
Rounding out the core of the group is guitarist Jeff Pevar — an understated, and often overlooked session man whose work has graced Crosby projects as well as those by Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor. In addition, he recently completed several dates with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, and he brings that same jam band ethic to several of the tracks on Just Like Gravity. The spacious Gone Forever drifts off into Phish-influenced fare, and Pevar's soaring guitar adds a fiery underbelly to Angel Dream and a Pat Metheny-like flavor to Coyote King.
However, Pevar is just as comfortable slipping into the background, painting the songs with lighter brush strokes while still providing the atmospheric overtones that they require. He unassumingly augments Map to Buried Treasure's joyful ambience, and he poignantly embellishes Kings Get Broken with a perfectly suited, nuanced bite.
Truth be told, Just Like Gravity is a more than welcome — and long overdue — career-defining moment for Crosby. It is dazzlingly beautiful, it sparkles with brilliance, and it showcases his indelible return to peak form. Unfortunately, it's also an album that is apt to get lost amidst the myriad of blasé releases spotlighted by today's music industry. And that's a real shame because Just Like Gravity is a true gem on which Crosby fully rediscovers himself and his creative voice.
Just Like Gravity is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box