Sky Trails, David Crosby's third album of original material in four years, continues the fearless folk rock legend's unexpected late-period resurgence. Sky Trails features a full band sound that takes Crosby in a new musical direction as the set tilts toward jazz. The album opens with the intoxicating "She's Got To Be Somewhere," which features sturdy horns, bending guitar notes and lilting melodies. Crosby is backed on the album by the Sky Trails musicians, the core of whom are saxophonist Steve Tavaglione, bassist Mai Agan, drummer Steve DiStanislao, and Crosby's son, multi-instrumentalist James Raymond, who also produced the album.
Sky Trails follows 2016's critically acclaimed Lighthouse which was preceded by 2014's Croz, Crosby's first solo album in 20 years. Though Crosby wrote many of the songs for Sky Trails as he was working on Lighthouse, the two are distinctly different projects. "Lighthouse was conspicuously and deliberately acoustic," Crosby says. "Sky Trails was intended to be a full band record from the start." In addition to the opener and "Curved Air," standout tracks include "Before Tomorrow Falls On Love," a spare, romantic piano ballad Crosby co-wrote with Michael McDonald, that reveals Crosby to be quite the tender jazz crooner. He and Becca Stevens bring a sweet, ethereal gentleness to the title track, as their voices weave around Tavaglione's soprano sax.
As writer/co-writer of eight of the tracks, Crosby deserves the credit for the album's wide-ranging, incisive lyrics that examine the human condition, from our frailty on "Here It's Almost Sunset" to our greed on the searing "Capitol." And of course the album is anchored by Crosby's instantly recognizable iconic vocals, which are by turns biting and soulful and it holds together remarkably well as a cohesive statement about our humanity. The album's lone cover is a stirring version of "Amelia," a tune written by Crosby's longtime friend Joni Mitchell and featured on her own jazz-based seminal work, 1976's Hejira.