DAVID CROSBY - FOR FREE

Crosby For Free

How David Crosby is still alive and looking forward to his 80th birthday on August 18th, never mind being in an incredibly fertile vein of form, is a wonder of the 21st century world? The world is full of wonders that on a daily basis we walk past and take for granted. Let us not do it with For Free.

For Free is Stills, Nash and Young’s former buddy’s 5th record in 7 years. The last one Here If You Listen was like a vocal work with Michael League, Becca Stevens and Michelle Willis. 

Sky Trails before leaned heavily on his love of jazz.  

Its predecessor Lighthouse was gentle song writing. For Free harks back to the first of the five Croz. For Free uses all the angles of these last seven years and nails it better than any of the first four. It seems more rounded, solid and thus satisfying.

It all comes, as so often with Crosby, with a little help from his friends. Michael McDonald fills in for the aforementioned harmonisers Stills and Nash on the opening River Rise.

Sarah Jarosz adds stunning vocals to the time track. That track, For Free, is a Joni Mitchell cover, adding to Amelia and Woodstock on his last two records and gets to the true meaning, nature and purpose of music making.

Maybe the best track sounds like, but isn’t, another cover. If She’s Got To Be Somewhere from Sky Trails sounded like Steely Dan then Rodriguez In The Night is an actual co-write with Donald Fagan. A whole album of such a collaboration would have great potential!

Crosby’s son James Raymond might be the main cause of all of his long lost dad's resurgence. He is all over this as producer, co writer and player. His own daughter Gracie even sings. Does she call Croz Grandpa?

Into all of this Crosby sings about life and mortality. His own mortality is there in the beautiful closing I Won’t Stay Long whereas Shot At Me is a cafe conversation with a veteran who served in the Middle East. He’s doing Crosbian deals with the devil in the fictional story line of Rodriguez In The Night. The utter beauty of The Other Side of Midnight takes me on some boat journey with sailor boy Crosby.

I Think I might be a man with a very colourful life story finding his way or maybe coming to terms with all the times he got lost.

For Free shimmers with vibrancy and positivity. The guitars light it up, the harmonies allow it to soar and hanging all over that are these songs of a world weary human making sense of the life of his generation, most of which he lived in his own broken, messed up, often dark but contradictorily light seeking life of an artistic adventurer.  

David Crosby is a wonder and For Free is wonderful!


MUSIC I HAVE UPLOADED FOR VACATION

Summer Music

Summer vacation for me as about getting those long empty days to listen and read. Here are the records I am uploading for some seriously listening to... 

 

JOY OLADOKUN - in defense of my happiness

My revelation of the summer. Joy’s voice just stand out over everything else I am hearing. Then there’s the spiritual tension and… ah… joy!

 

JACKSON BROWNE - DOWNHILL FROM EVERYWHERE

Always wonderful to have new Jackson Browne thoughts and this one has some excellent thoughts, social, political and relational. All sent out to us in a more vibrant sound echoing his Looking East days. 

 

INHALER - IT WON’T ALWAYS BE LIKE THIS

Bono’s boy and his mates throw down the gauntlet to the older stadium bands with an assured and catchy set of great songs. 

 

FEYE WEBSTER - I KNOW I’M FUNNY. HA HA

Another discovery of July. Webster has the gentlest sound but crafted and full. Hypnotic.

 

THE WALLFLOWERS - EXIT WOUNDS

The younger Dylan sounding more like his dad’s mate Tom Petty than his dad. Showing a maturity of craft and purpose. Strong contender for records of the year.

 

DANI LARKIN - NOTES FOR A MAIDEN WARRIOR

Fresh folk voice with contemporary songwriting twists from a young woman from the Monaghan-Armagh border. Songs of myth and introspection and home.

 

DAVID CROSBY -  FOR FREE

With all his addictions it was surely unlikely that David Crosby should be alive on his August 14th 80th birthday! Defying all, this is his 5th good album in 7 years and my personal favourite.

 

TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS - ANGEL DREAM

The roll out of Tom Petty’s work this past year is most welcome in this house. This time it is a reconstruction of the film soundtrack She’s The One as if it was a full on Petty & The Heartbreakers record. Wonderful addition to the Wildflowers stuff.

 

ANTHONY TONER - SIX INCHES OF WATER

 

Anthony is such a great lyricist and has just made a record entirely inspired by East Belfast. Just out I am so looking forward to exploring my city in these songs.

 

DEL AMITRI - FATAL MISTAKES

A reunion with substance. Del Amitri return nearly two decades later as if they were back in 1993. Loving it.

 

KINGS OF CONVENIENCE - PEACE OR LOVE

First record in a longtime. Still that modern version of Simon and Garfunkel that chilled vacations need. 

 

AMY WADGE - KEEPING FAITH

I’ve been aware of Amy Wadge since she played Greenbelt as a member of the Hummingbirds. These are three EPs from her songs on the fabulous Welsh TV drama Keeping Faith. Strong songs.

 

COUNTING CROWS - BUTTER MIRACLE SUITE ONE

So good to hear Adam Duritz’s voice again. Strong storytelling and imagery as ever. More please!


STOCKI ON DAILY BLOGGING - AND SIGNING OFF FOR VACATION

Stocki and Jani 21

When I moved to Fitzroy in 2009 I realised that any ideas of writing more books were pretty much gone. I had my Masters dissertation pretty close to book form but I left it. 

When I write books I need time lots of time to get back in from where I was, to find the next chapters. Days. Weeks. I am so glad to got the time on my 2018 sabbatical to ghost write Trevor Stevenson’s memoir, From Killing Fields To Fields Of Life. That was a lovely wee surprise!

Anyway, back to 2009. I then thought. I could blog more. During the 2010 World Cup, as it was in South Africa that I had written so much about, I decided to blog every day for that month. For eleven now years I have kept going. Just 500 words or so, an article, review, poem from beginning to end, everyday. 

I don’t always do it. When I am tired my imagination wanes and I have to repost old blogs. Or re-write them. Yet, I have been sending out something most days for over a decade and I am very thankful that many of you read those thoughts. Thank you. The next year should see Soul Surmise pass 1 million hits. Wow! Thank you again.

To the point. Today I start my summer vacation. I treat it pretty religiously. I believe I should. I have blogged about that too.

So, I take the pressure off myself. I go on social media less. I only write blogs about what I am reading, listening to and rhyming. Any meaty articles get noted for post holiday. If I don’t write one thing for a month so be it but usually I like reviewing the book I have just read as it helps me untangle what I got from it. Hopefully it might be a good recommendation for your own summer reading.

Why do I say all of this. To remind myself to allow myself to be led by quiet waters. To commit to sabbath. Maybe it is also a last preach to all of you. Whatever, you do in ordinary time, leave it down for holiday time. Take the weight off. Find empty days. Those are the days where refreshment is most fertile. 

Let’s do it!


TURN OFF THE MUSIC - SEASIDE PSALMS 2

BC river

I was walking across the beach on my own, a rare expedition, last night and I sensed a nudge to turn off The Wallflowers in my head phones and listen to the something more... I have spoken a lot this week about my bad habit of poking the quiet waters... So I stopped.

 

Turn the music off

And listen to the wonder

The waves as they lap

The ocean’s big blue yonder

 

Turn off the music

And listen to the quiet

The rhythm of the silence

The stillness of deep soul’s riot

 

Tune in to the earth’s allure

And the night sky’s encryption 

Tune in to heaven’s contours

And the evening’s benediction

 

Turn off the music

Learn the lesson

Here... now... this...

Feel the blessing.


JOY OLADOKUN - in defense of my own happiness

Oladokun

The musical revelation of my summer of 2021 this young lady is Joy by name and utter joy by musical nature. 

Ricky Ross had alluded to this record and a day or two later I spotted her loitering in a Youtube thread. It was her performance of Sunday on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. My body literally lifted off my chair. The unadulterated purity of her voice. All at once angelic while stuck in the everyday issues of the world.

You knew she’d name check Tracy Chapman but she takes that very obvious folky singer songwriter template and sprinkles gospel and R&B and pop and even rap all across the mix, creating a sound that is at once familiar but so young and fresh you think it’s the first time. 

There is a spiritual energy too. She, sadly like so many, has struggled under the weight of the Church’s expectations but, unlike so many, she continued to find her way to hold on to faith.

On the opening Jordan she tells us:

 

I tried to build an institution

Instead of trying to keep the faith

 

On that song Sunday that I heard first she explains:

 

Sunday, bury me under the weight of who you need me to be

 

Not everyone so young can divide the wheat from the chaff but Oladokun does it joyously. She is a soul singer with just an acoustic guitar and  almost creates what a never ending abundance of hope might sound like. You feel it. You ride on it with her. And she wants you to. As she sings on If You Got A Problem:

 

If you got a problem

I got a problem too

If you’re standing at the bottom

I’ll reach out for you.

 

It's pastoral. On her website she writes, “When you listen to me, i want you to feel like you’ve taken an emotional shower”. Yes, that is how I felt that first time I heard her voice. Like she was this refreshing gift full of songs that  could heal or inspire and help something grow inside your soul. As on Brick By Brick where almost hymn like she sings:

 

We are making all things new again

We are making all things new

We are searching for the difference

We are making all things new 

 

That’s what she’s doing!