Funny how things cluster together sometimes. I don’t want it to look like we’re stuck in some canyon of the mind here at Uncut, but no sooner had Neil Young’s “Sugar Mountain” turned up towards the end of last week, but a neat reissue of Graham Nash’s solo debut arrived too. I promise I’ll get somewhere closer to the cutting edge, whatever that means, later in the week: I have new things by Animal Collective, Buraka Som Sistema and Marnie Stern needing to be written about, for a start.

Funny how things cluster together sometimes. I don’t want it to look like we’re stuck in some canyon of the mind here at Uncut, but no sooner had Neil Young’s “Sugar Mountain” turned up towards the end of last week, but a neat reissue of Graham Nash’s solo debut arrived too. I promise I’ll get somewhere closer to the cutting edge, whatever that means, later in the week: I have new things by Animal Collective, Buraka Som Sistema and Marnie Stern needing to be written about, for a start.



But for today, a minor epiphany about Graham Nash, I suppose. To be honest, I’ve never ventured near his solo albums before, wary of how that slightly pinched voice would sound in isolation, suspicious of a lot of weapons-grade tweeness in the vein of “Teach Your Children”. And while there is some serious whimsy here – “You’ll wear the coat of questions ‘til the answer hat is here,” right – there’s also some terrific things blessed with a heft that I’d never have expected from Nash.

“Military Madness” is fairly well-known, of course, not least from the CSNY “Déjà Vu” adventure; how heroically incongruous that opening line about “an upstairs room in Blackpool” sounds in this angelic LA context. But it’s things like “Better Days”, with Nash tracking himself and Neil Young’s piano (trading under the name of Joe Yankee here) with an unexpectedly ominous, sepulchral organ. And while “Wounded Bird” might feature that “answer hat” drivel, it finds Nash meticulously multi-tracking himself into, well, CSN, more or less.

Crosby himself drops in on the next track, “I Used To Be A King”, and has the good grace to bring Phil Lesh and Jerry Garcia along, too. Incredible song, I think, with a sort of dignified, romantic lurch and Garcia zinging round the mix on steel guitar. “There’s Only One” is in a similar rich vein, all pounding piano, massed vocal swells and that feel of the canyon folk scene tapping into the guts of soul. “Be Yourself”, meanwhile, is a Terry Reid co-write that briefly resembles Dylan having a crack at “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”.

But you probably knew all this already. Good record. Bit scared of the other Nash solo albums, though. Should I be?