It’s his fifth full-length album release in the last seven years and continues an unparalleled and unexpected late-career renaissance. Arriving just a month before his 80th birthday, For Free finds the folk-rock legend continuing to tap into the tremendous surge of creativity he’s experienced since the making of his acclaimed 2016 album Lighthouse, this time collaborating with the likes of Michael McDonald, Donald Fagen of Steely Dan, and multi-Grammy Award-winning artist Sarah Jarosz. With a transcendent quality that lies somewhere between poetry, prayer, and wild-eyed rock-and-roll, For Free yet again reveals Crosby’s rare gift for imparting essential truths with both undeniable warmth and a profound sense of wonder.
|For Free draws much of its power from the rarefied chemistry between Crosby and his son James Raymond, a multi-instrumentalist who also served as the album’s producer. “Can you imagine what it’s like to connect with your son and find out that he’s incredibly talented—a great composer, a great poet, and a really fine songwriter and musician all around?” Crosby asks. “We’re such good friends and we work so well together, and we’ll each go to any length to create the highest-quality songs we can.”|
For the final track on For Free, Crosby selected a piece written solely by Raymond, the gently devastating “I Won’t Stay for Long.” Inspired by Marcel Camus’s 1959 film Black Orpheus—a retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and his attempt to bring his wife Eurydice back from the dead—the song centers on an exquisite vocal performance from Crosby, who mines an entire world of emotion from each finely crafted lyric (e.g., “I’m facing the squall line/Of a thousand year storm/I don’t know if I’m dying/Or about to be born”). “‘I Won’t Stay for Long’ is my favorite song on the record—I’ve listened to it 100 times now and it still reaches out and grabs me, it’s so painfully beautiful,” says Crosby. “I did end up getting a pretty stunning vocal on it, because it meant so much to me that I sang the hell out of it. One thing James and I both believe is that songs are an art form and a treasure—so when a song comes along that’s as good as that one, we’ll just give it everything we got.”