Freedonia (Christopher Cross Records)

Texas Platters

Before becoming a platinum-plated solo act, Christopher Cross (né Geppert) spent years woodshedding into a top-flight guitarist in San Antonio and Austin. Cross fronts Freedonia and its music fits squarely within his smooth rubric, but this eponymous bow plays out as a whole-band effort. The half-decade between Steely Dan's Aja and Donald Fagen's The Nightfly serves as the octet's amber-hued epicenter. Sax wielders Seth Carper, Russell Haight, and Justin Vasquez scintillate behind charts rekindling the Southern California charms of what was once called adult contemporary music, while percussionist James Fenner employs wind chimes to an extent not heard since the Carter administration. Collaborative spirit goes both ways; "Austin Sunrise," co-written with the late Rob Meurer, sketches Cross' career with anthemic, lakeside grace. Although never as sardonic as Fagen, when the voice of "Sailing" tacks toward protest on "The World Is Broken," one realizes no port in a storm is completely safe.


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