Flushed with the success of his first solo effort and the continuing adulation from his role in the supergroup CSNY, Stephen Stills must have felt like he could do no wrong, and in many instances, his second solo disc proves him right.
What’s so instantly striking about Crosby, Stills and Nash’s CSN, their second group album in eight years, is that it sounds so much like the debut LP even though its makers are so vastly changed. Since CS&N, and later Y, were always at the vanguard of the conspicuous counterculture (always ready to hoist their tie-dyed freak flag at a moment’s notice), their current reflection and hesitancy are especially interesting. And, because the music is so eerily familiar, the album communicates a kind of time warp (imagine if we knew in 1969 what we know now) that’s compelling and troubling.
Although Crosby, Stills & Nash had, in effect, been together for well over a decade when Daylight Again (1982) was issued, it was only their third studio long-player of concurrently new material.
One of the most enduring musical partnerships of our time, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Crosby, Stills & Nash are revered for their peerless vocal harmonies, inspired songwriting and musical virtuosity. When the trio first sang together at a friend's Laurel Canyon house in 1968, their uncanny harmonic convergence was immediately apparent, and CSN took shape. Each member came to the new venture from other high-profile bands-Crosby from the Byrds, Stills from Buffalo Springfield, and Nash from the Hollies-and together, they formed that rarest of musical entities, a "supergroup" that lived up to its billing. CSN's 1969 self-titled debut album is one of the true masterpieces of the rock 'n' roll canon, and 1982's Daylight Again is a brilliant portrait of their musical evolution. Still touring and recording together, CSN is an American treasure.
A sprawling masterpiece, akin to the Beatles' White Album, the Stones' Exile on Main St., or Wilco's Being There in its makeup, if not its sound. Rock, folk, blues, country, Latin, and bluegrass have all been styles touched on in Stephen Stills' career, and the skilled, energetic musicians he had gathered in Manassas played them all on this album. What could have been a disorganized mess in other hands, though, here all gelled together and formed a cohesive musical statement.
Talk about understatement – there's Stephen Stills on the cover, acoustic guitar in hand, promising a personal singer/songwriter-type statement. And there is some of that – even a lot of that personal music-making – on Stephen Stills, but it's all couched in astonishingly bold musical terms. Stephen Stills is top-heavy with 1970 sensibilities, to be sure, from the dedication to the memory of Jimi Hendrix to the now piggish-seeming message of "Love the One You're With."