There's a sense of optimism about David Crosby's new release "Oh Yes I Can" (A&M Records). And it's not just in the title.
Crosby is singing and writing better than anything he's done in the last 15 or so years, and "Oh Yes I Can" is a mirror into the reconstruction going on in Crosby's life now that he's cleaned up his drug and legal problems.But "better than before" does not necessarily make this album a great one. Crosby--whose best material was written with bandmate Graham Nash--has never been a great solo artist.
Good yes. Great no.
Little wonder that "Oh Yes I Can" is a good album, but far from great. Which will be just fine with all those Crosby fans who look to him as a surviving guru of hippiedom.
Crosby doesn't disappoint on that account. There is lots of spacey wanderings, plenty of acoustic plunking on the guitar and a healthy dab of paranoia and meaning hidden in obscure words. There's even some good rock'n roll.
You can even see Crosby's tongue planted firmly in cheek as he croons, "all that hippie hopefulness is just a crutch." But what's wrong with that? he adds.
The best cut here is the rockin' "Drive My Car" with Danny Kortchmar and David Lindley on guitars, followed by the autobiographical "Monkey and the Underdog," a look back on cocaine addiction.
Other fine cuts include "In the Wide Ruin," the bluesy "Drop Down Mama" and a wistful, folksie rendition of "My Country Tis of Thee."
While there is plenty of good stuff, there are plenty of clinkers, too. The love song, "Melody" just doesn't work, and "Distances" is so cerebral he forgot to add a melody.
Elsewhere, there are delicate duets with Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt; a soft-jazz track with Larry Coryell; a political commentary in "Lady of the Harbor" and acoustic work with New Age guitarist Michael Hedges.
All in all, it's not a bad effort. Maybe you can, David!