Lights twinkle, flicker, blaze, and sparkle throughout David Crosby’s finest solo album since his melancholy 1971 masterpiece If I Could Only Remember My Name. A subtly cohesive set of tunes reflecting Crosby’s politics, spirituality and emotional maturity, Lighthouse is an unusually robust late-career move radiating inventive musicianship, relaxed self-assurance and gently cantankerous autumnal wisdom. (“Shame on me for thinking I could be someone who could be free,” he chides the political forces of darkness in “Someone Other Than You.”) Croz also found an ideal collaborator in Snarky Puppy bassist-bandleader Michael League, whose mastery of elegant harmonic movement – reflected here in luminously towering vocal harmonies – illuminates the songwriter’s familiar voice, which mostly sounds younger than his 75 years, and innovative acoustic guitar style.
Following a gentle love song for his wife of 40 years (“Things We Do for Love”), Crosby ruminates on the disinterested cosmos in “The Us Below,” asking “Why must we be eternally alone?” His heavenly harmonizing reaches an apex with “Look in Their Eyes,” which marshals compassion for the world’s refugees. Crosby questions the origins of such tragedies in the authority-challenging “What Makes It So?”
Crosby’s nonstandard guitar tunings and League’s elaborate vocal productions make Lighthouse sound both vintage and forward-thinking. Crosby has always tended to avoid the simple path, and Lighthouse is no exception. As he sings in “By the Light of Common Day,” its luminous closer: “Being happy isn’t quite enough/Somehow I needed to make it rough.”