This Path Tonight appeared 14 long years after 2002’s Songs for Survivors, but Graham Nash didn’t spend that decade and a half idly. In addition to semi-regular tours with David Crosby and Stephen Stills, Nash archived his CSN past by curating box sets for all three members along with a live set from 1974 that featured Neil Young.
He also looked to the past via his 2013 memoir Wild Tales: A Rock &
Roll Life. Maybe all these glances backward culminated with him turning
his attention to the present, where things were in flux. This Path Tonight
was written and recorded in the wake of his separation (and eventual
divorce) from his longtime wife, Susan Sennett, and by the time it saw
release, Nash claimed that he would never perform with Crosby again, thereby bringing a close to CSN. All the elements were in place for This Path Tonight
to be a textbook divorce album but, instead, there’s hope threaded
among bittersweet ruminations. When he sings about “Another Broken
Heart,” it’s not about himself — he’s addressing the woman he’s
leaving, encouraging her to find a love to help her through. Such a
sentiment blends sweetness and self-regard, which is something of a
signature for Nash and his compatriots. Here, this trait seems neither narcissistic nor cloying; it feels settled, relaxed, and assured — Nash
embraces the changes with confidence because he knows where he’s
heading. He’ll still stumble into moments either strident (usually the
political songs, including the bonus track “Mississippi Burning”) or
saccharine (usually the love songs), but that’s part of his DNA and Nash doesn’t attempt to hide it on This Path Tonight.
Nor does he attempt to turn this record into anything other than a
twilight reflection. At times, the production carries an adult
contemporary air reminiscent of Daylight Again, elsewhere it’s as spare as he’s ever been, and the two aesthetics blend into a record that’s comforting yet not complacent. Nash is no longer looking at the past; he’s looking at the future and he’s embracing all the changes to come.
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