While there had been a greatest hits and live release, it had been seven years since Crosby, Stills, Nash and the missing Young had produced a studio album. Graham Nash and David Crosby had continued their musical relationship and released three albums on their own. Stills had recorded with Manassas, Neil Young, and as a solo artist but in 1977 decided to rejoin his old band mates for another album. Neil Young skipped the project and his relationship with the other three has been intermittent ever since.
CSN is an excellent album. It has a polish similar to their self titled debut and Déjà Vu. The harmonies remain well crafted and exquisite. It is a more laid back affair, and maybe at times too much so, but it has an overall beauty to it that is missing from the first two releases.
They made the wise decision to work with a stellar group of musicians. The basic backing band consisted of keyboardist Craig Doerge, bassist George Perry, drummer Russ Kunkel, and multi-instrumentalist Joe Vitale. When they combined with Crosby, Stills, and Nash, it gave the music a real group feeling.
They wrote all twelve tracks except for one co-written by Craig Doerge which produced a lot of superior songs and really no poor ones.
Stephen Stills contributed five songs and they were better than most of the material he had been producing on his own. “I Give You Give Blind” is a good Stills rocker and he adds some of the best piano work of his career. “See The Changes” contain some of the best lyrics he has produced as he explores relationships. “Fair Game” is a folk/rocker with Stills on acoustic guitar. It has interesting tempo changes and wonderful harmonies. “Dark Star” is another beautifully put together piece about relationships.
Graham Nash contributed four tracks and they are the type of gentle songs which he had produced in the past. “Just A Song Before I Go” is the groups biggest hit to date reaching number seven on The American singles charts. I have always thought “Cathedral” is the album's best track. It is a contemplative exploration of his anti-Christian views.
David Crosby’s three songs are highlighted by his “Shadow Captain.” You can almost smell the ocean as the voices creative a mood which few groups have ever been able to do.
CSN is an album which combined the strengths of Crosby, Stills and Nash well. It proves that the whole is better than the parts.