In the cover photo for “This Path Tonight,” his first new solo album in 14 years, Graham Nash stands at the beginning of a wooded trail receding into the distance.
It would have been more fitting if he had been further down the path.
That’s because Nash’s new record is an inward-looking but not particularly insightful reflection on a legendary career. Mostly Nash is thinking about where he’s been.
“And the question haunting me,” he sings vulnerably on “Myself at Last,” one of the album’s better songs, “is my future just my past?”
Examining the past can be risky, even for a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Nash’s musings here aren’t groundbreaking — and some are uncharacteristically trite.
“But nowadays it seems that we all need to care,” Nash sings on “Golden Days,” a song that seems to acknowledge that his heyday is behind him. “And follow all our dreams, and answer all our prayers. What happened to ‘all you need is love’?”
You get the idea.
Despite the cliches, the playing is first-rate and Nash’s voice, still one of the most expressive of the Woodstock generation, sounds familiar and fine.
It’s true that many of his best moments involved adding soaring upper harmony to good songs and making them great — mostly in the time-tested body of work produced by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and its various subdivisions. But there’s plenty here to remind listeners that Nash is a capable front man.
The net effect, though, is to send you running for the old stuff.
Maybe that’s not fair — and yet many who attain greatness sometimes have trouble hitting the high notes again.
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