Say what you will about the '70s, but the decade was a time of almost psychotic diversity. The charts were regularly peppered with every imaginable style of music, from hard rock to light pop to folk to Motown to funk to chemically calibrated amalgams of any or all of the above. Like every other era, some of it was blazingly unique and some of it was droningly derivative. One of the most recognizable purveyors of folkish pop-rock was the duo of Jim Seals and Dash Crofts. The pair's string of gold and platinum hits spoke not to the lowest common denominator but to the pure crystalline universality of the era's car-radio treasures. Seals and Crofts achieved timelessness with nearly every single and album they released in the '70s. Not surprisingly their reign ended on the jagged cusp of punk's brazen arrival.
Other than a brief reunion in 1991, the two have turned their backs on recording. That metaphor is brought to bear on the cover of Dash Crofts' new solo album Today, the first release from either member since Seals and Crofts' dissolution in 1980. Crofts is pictured playing his signature mandolin, his back turned resolutely to the camera. Fortunately the music within is more inclusive and embraceable, but at the same time it displays the weaknesses that brought about the duo's demise. Today begins with a cover of Bobbidazzler's 1977 quasi-hit "Sunrise," a could-be-great track that suffers from a shade too much gloss. A number of other tunes on Today could have been toned down to mirror the less produced and more ephemeral feel of the title track and "Tree of Life," which hark back to the most satisfying aspects of Seals and Crofts' original success.
Even with occasional overpolishing, it's more than simple nostalgia that makes Crofts' album a fun listen. The Doobie Brotherslike pop romp "Ridin' Thumb" is a funky workout, featuring Crofts throwing a little piece of "Tequila" into his mandolin solo, while "Golden Rainbow" and "Hollow Reed" offer what could easily pass for the duo's updated sound. In at least one way, Today could be considered something of a reunion, as Seals cowrote a half-dozen of the tracks with Crofts. It may be the closest we ever get to another summer breeze.
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