After a failed attempt at a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young reunion album in 1976, which eventually became The Stills-Young Band’s Long May You Run, the original trio released their second album in 1977. Unlike their earlier social concerns, their lyrics are largely focused on relationships, and with its smooth sound it’s comparable to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, released the same year.
There are some strong examples of mature pop; the opener ‘Shadow Captain’ may be David Crosby’s finest moment, with evocative lyrics like “blacked out like a city/awaiting bombers in the night” and studio pianist Craig Doerge’s jazzy piano work, while his ‘In My Dreams’ is also beautiful. Nash cranks out the single, the tuneful ‘Just A Song Before I Go’, while ‘Cathedral’ is arguably his most ambitious composition ever, his tale of an acid trip in a cathedral. Stills contributes ‘Run From Tears’, ‘I Give You Give Blind’ and the groove of ‘Dark Star’, enlivening CSN with some necessary muscle and variety.
CSN is surprisingly accomplished; it’s not as effortlessly vital as their first two albums, but at its best it showcases mature songs that reflect the trio growing up.