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David Crosby Recruits Michael McDonald for New Song ‘River Rise’

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David Crosby will release a new album, For Free, on July 23. The singer-songwriter previewed the project with lead single “River Rise,” featuring Michael McDonald.

The Doobie Brothers singer adds his distinctive voice to the breezy folk-rock track, which gently builds to a climactic guitar solo. McDonald harmonizes with Crosby on the chorus, singing, “Let the river rise, open up the skies / Not gonna wash away.”

You can hear the song below.

Crosby’s son James Raymond, a multi-instrumentalist who produced the record, cowrote the tune with Crosby and McDonald. In a statement, Raymond said that “River Rise” emerged from “wanting to write something very evocative of California, but almost with a country-song perspective — something that speaks to the empowerment of the everyman or everywoman.”

For Free, which follows 2018’s Here If You Listen, features several of the musicians who appeared on the prior year’s Sky Trails, including saxophonist Steve Tavaglione and drummer Steve DiStanislao. The new record is named for Crosby’s cover of the Joni Mitchell song, which appeared on her classic 1970 album, Ladies of the Canyon.

“Joni’s the greatest living singer-songwriter, and ‘For Free’ is one of her simplest,” said Crosby of the new take, which features Sarah Jarosz. “It’s one of my favorite songs, because I love what it says about the spirit of music and what compels you to play.”

The album, featuring a cover portrait painted by his friend Joan Baez, also includes a song written by Donald Fagen, “Rodriguez for a Night.” Crosby called Steely Dan his “favorite band,” adding, “I’ve admired Donald a long time, so that was a thrill for us.”

“It’s really fucking good, man,” Crosby told Rolling Stone of that song last year. “I’m so honored he gave us a set of words. I’ve been asking him for a couple of years. He started to trust us, I think. It took a long time, but he gave us a set of words that are really wonderful and we just wrote the shit out of them.”


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