Design By Humans
Published On: Wed, Jun 8th, 2016

Graham Nash: This Path Tonight

GNGraham Nash
This Path Tonight
(Blue Castle)

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This Path Tonight is all about acoustic minimalism. What instruments there are (acoustic guitars, Hammond organ, piano, and a compassionate rhythm section) are low-fi and laid back. Nash sings in a whisper, making sure you have to crane your neck to pay attention to every word – and you will. This Path Tonight is among a rare breed of albums these days. It’s an album where the lyrics, rather than the licks, take precedence. Seventy-four-year-old Nash has been going through some life-changing events in the past few years – the dissolution of his thirty-nine-year marriage, the surprising rift between him and David Crosby, his music partner for nearly fifty years, and the death of fellow musician and friend, The Band’s Levon Helm. These events are all present in veiled inferences. On the soft, lullaby-like “Myself at Last” Nash sings, “And with everything I’ve ever done/Well, I’ve tried to be my best/But everyone I’ve ever known/Has been some kind of test.” Take that Crosby, Stills and Mrs. Nash. Other standout tracks include the introspective title cut, “Another Broken Heart,” which is coated with windy rushes on Hammond organ, the aptly titled “Golden Days,” which features the searing opening line, “I used to be in a band, made up of my friends,” and “Back Home,” his haunting tribute to Helm, which has the type of layered, ethereal vocals usually found on a Crosby album. If Nash never makes another album (his last solo effort was 14 years ago), “Encore” will serve as a dark coda to his career: “What’re you gonna do when the last show is over/What’re you gonna do when you can’t touch base/ And what’re you gonna do when the applause is all over/And you can’t turn your back on what you face?” There are no head-banging guitar riffs, no ear-splitting drum solos and it’s not all about the bass. This Path Tonight is poetry set to music. There are (gasp) real, grown-up issues here. It’s not about what they play, it’s about what Nash has to say. All you have to do is listen.

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Graham Nash: This Path Tonight