David Crosby Amazed He Pulled Off 'Croz,' First Solo Album in 20 Years


David Crosby's "Croz"

Guests on the album include Mark Knopfler, Wynton Marsalis and son James Raymond… Meanwhile, Crosby, Stills and Nash are "working on" new music after a planned covers album fell through

"All kinds of wonderful chemistries" helped David Crosby make his first solo album in nearly 21 years -- and he doesn't mean THAT kind of chemistry.

Crosby tells Billboard that "Croz," which comes out Tuesday (Jan. 28), was the result of close collaborations with James Raymond, the son he gave up for adoption in 1962 and one of his primary musical partners since the mid-90s, co-producer Daniel Garcia and co-writers such as Marcus Eaton and Sterling Price. 

"We decided we were making a record, and, God, it's been the most wonderful experience," Crosby gushes. "I don't know how we pulled it off, 'cause we don't have any money. Actually, I do know how we pulled it off; my son has a studio (the Bamboom Room in Altadena, Calif.) he built into his garage, and I would go down and sleep there on his fold-out couch and we would work on it. It took us about two and a half years to do it."

Crosby and Raymond, of course, released four albums as CPR with Jeff Pevar, but the father-son musical bond "just kept getting better and better the whole time since I met him," according to Crosby. Raymond wrote two of "Croz's" 11 songs himself and co-wrote five with his father. 

"He brings chemistry," Crosby explains. "These songs, we worked a lot on them, man, on things like 'The Clearing' or 'Dangerous NIghts'...There's probably six different sets of words to 'Dangerous Night' and four or five sets to 'Find a Heart,' different iterations of words that we kept going back and forth, 'This isn't good enough' or 'This really, really opens up another place for us to go. Let's look there.' It's such an alive process. The communication is so good between James and I. It's...well, the evidence is there before you" on the album.

"Croz" also features guest appearances by Mark Knopfler, which Crosby calls "a piece of generosity and kindness on his party," and by Wynton Marsalis, "a scholar and a gentleman and...a wonderful man." Guitarist Shane Fontayne, meanwhile, plays on several tracks and co-wrote "Set That Baggage Down" with Crosby. 

"It's a coherent body of work, although it really is all over the map, emotionally and in subject matter," says Crosby, adding that he recorded "three or four others that didn't make the cut because they didn't fit with the other stuff," including a cover of Joni Mitchell's "Amelia."

Crosby starts touring to support "Croz" with a four-night stand starting Tuesday at New York's City Winery, with other multi-night stops in Chicago, San Francisco, West Hollywood and Vienna, Va. 

"I'm not going to make a nickel off this tour, not one. I'll break even, barely," Crosby notes. "But it's not really about that, is it? It's about getting to play that music, which is a joy." 

Meanwhile, he'll be hitting the road with Crosby, Stills & Nash this year, in March and "all over the place" during the summer. The trio is "working on" new music after a planned covers album with Rick Rubin failed to pan out. 

"Or Neil could call," Crosby notes with a chuckle. 

CSNY did regroup for the Bridge School Benefit concerts during October, and a box set from the group's legendary 1974 tour is due out this year. And, Crosby says, the door is always open for more. 

"If he wants to do it, I want to do it. Neil, he's a frustrating guy 'cause he does exactly as he pleases. He's great to work with 'cause he's not satisfied... He's always wanting to push the envelope and he's always wanting to reach further, and you gotta admire that."