Berlin / Los Angeles (dpa) – David Crosby was born in Los Angeles in 1941, Jackson Browne, seven years his junior, grew up as a child in the coastal metropolis. But it is above all their music that has made them world stars of the famous West Coast scene to this day.

Their sound: a mix of American folk rock and country style, flower power pop and jazz, enriched with a lot of Californian lifestyle, which has at times topped the radio waves, charts and critics’ charts in the world. world in the 60s and 70s.

Icons of a glorious era

You don’t have to be a prophet to predict that veterans’ albums, now being released at the same time, won’t have the same effect as their masterpieces from decades ago. As good as? Crosby’s records with The Byrds or Crosby, Stills & Nash (including Neil Young at times) are icons of an era; Browne’s songwriter’s melodious pop is still a perfect soundtrack for sweet hippies of the ’70s and beyond. Both musicians have long been members of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame – actually museum pieces.

And yet: David Crosby (79) polishes his slightly faded halo with “For Free”, just like Jackson Browne (72) with “Downhill From Everywhere”. The two elderly gentlemen were particularly amazed at how fantastic their incomparable singing was.

Their voices sound good

“I really don’t know,” says Crosby, who looks very old and looks very young in the Zoom interview with the German news agency, laughing when asked what miracle cures helped his brilliant voice. and clear for over 50 years. “I’m not doing anything special about it. Alright, I quit smoking, that helps. But of course I smoke marijuana, quite a bit actually. But it doesn’t seem to hurt my voice. As long as it’s working this well, damn it, I’ll use it again. “Yes please.

Browne, meanwhile, recounts in the “Rolling Stone” newspaper (July issue) that his darker vocals stay beautiful “just by singing”. But he also admits that years ago he was “with different singing teachers”. “This desire to sing as well as possible has been with me all my life. And by good, I don’t mean strong. Sometimes the calm is better than the powerful. “

But what would be the best voice, as these West Coast heroes have been able to reliably do for ages, without loud songs? In this regard, Grammy-winning Crosby in particular has outdone himself on “For Free” – even more so than on his previous four comeback records after a long solo break, from “Croz” (2014) to ” Here If You Listen ”(2018).

Song by Joni Mitchell

Even the title song is a revelation in the art of songwriting. “For Free,” however, comes from Joni Mitchell, Crosby’s ex-girlfriend, whom he still admires to this day. “I think she’s the best of all of us,” he said. “I love their songs. She is a difficult woman (laughs) but a fantastic songwriter, singer and musician. I just can’t resist Joni. “

Crosby recorded the ballad as a duet with 30-year-old singer Sarah Jarosz, and his son James Raymond took over the piano part. When mentioned, the musician, who is outfitted with a mighty walrus mustache, raves again in the interview. “It is a gift to be blessed with such a son. I love to tell people that I am the luckiest guy ever. James has become a songwriter who is not only as good as I am, but sometimes even better. “With” I Won’t Stay For Long “, the last track of” For Free “, it is not himself but Raymond who wrote the best songs of the new album.

Not dusty at all

Concise old-man collaborations for the Ten Pearls of Folk Jazz have resulted with 73-year-old Donald Fagen (“Rodriguez For A Night” is arguably the best song his band Steely Dan has ever recorded) and with Michael McDonald (69 ), the legendary voice of the Doobie brothers. “These are all people who love music in its true substance,” says Crosby, who has always enjoyed writing songs with co-workers. “You don’t come here for the money.” Nothing here seems really routine or even outdated. And two more albums are already in preparation, the artist announced shortly before his 80th birthday (August 14).

“He’s a great songwriter, a really good person who’s always tried to be friendly for as long as I’ve known him,” dpa’s Crosby said of Jackson Browne. “We are friends. He is very close to my heart, although we are not dependent on each other as we live in different cities.”

On his harmonious and very solid old piece “Downhill From Everywhere”, Browne does not quite reach the altitude of his older colleague. But if you enjoy listening to his fabulous albums “Late For The Sky” (1974) or “Running On Empty” (1977), you shouldn’t be a stranger to the ten new songs, some of which have a Mexican and Spanish twist.

The warm voice of the now gray-bearded West Coast troubadour is of course half the battle. And songs like “Minutes To Downtown”, “Love Is Love” or “Until Justice Is Real” (as is so often the case with old leftist Jackson Browne) make you feel like you’re listening to a smart friend. In the end, he dedicates the sunny “Song For Barcelona” to his adopted homeland. No, unlike the pessimistic title of the album, this singer-songwriter is by no means tumbling down.