After a 20-year writing and production hiatus — seriously, 20 years of zilch — David Crosby is back and armed with a sense of humor about his current state of relevancy in the music industry. The former Crosby, Stills & Nash singer stated that this independently released fourth studio album would be strictly for self-expression purposes, in jest, noting that the album would probably sell a few dozen copies.

Croz

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David Crosby
Blue Castle Records


While Crosby’s solo material consistently falls short of his trio and quartet work, the ’70s groundwork still resonates, the words are still inspired and the iconic harmonies breeze in fluently. Despite Croz being a solo effort, Crosby progressively layers the vocalization of tracks like “What’s Broken” in a sort of “Twist and Shout” fashion, minus the spunkiness and plus the ambience.

On an outset presumption, Croz is a voice-guitar-piano-percussion package that remains stylistically consistent to a monotonous extent. The diamonds are in the details, however, lying adjacent to the record’s foremost instrumentation. An unpronounced synth, orchestra and flute wander behind the John Denver-esque “Morning Falling,” a funky bassline is churned out of “Time I Have” and a folk-rock “The Clearing” dribbles an unexpected synth over the track’s bridge.

Even at the ripe ole’ age of 72, Crosby can still uncover the dismal nature of the surrounding world, how “nobody wants what’s broken” and “even words from a friend bring back pain.” At this risk of morbidly fixating on the subject of loneliness, there are many turnarounds. Suddenly we’re asked to “Set the Baggage Down” and take “everything that’s broken and bury it in the sand” — a bit of advice drawn from 14 years of Alcoholic’s Anonymous, according to Crosby. Brokenness is a clear-sighted recurrence on Croz.

Low-sales expectation or not, the casually thrown-together record captures a more nuanced narrative than most contemporary platinum-sellers of the 2010s. Lyrics tend to come in bulk after 20 years-worth of silent observations, after all.

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