If you happen to pick this album up at a garage sale or something based on name recognition, without bothering to look at the year of release, you may be in for a hell of a surprise here.
Released in 1986, "Innocent Eyes" is Graham Nash's fourth solo album, and it ain't hard to see why it would have a lousy reputation among fans of Nash and the 'law firm'. Why? Because it sounds way different than what most anyone would probably associate with Mr. Nash, plus of the 10 songs, four of them weren't at all written by Graham. This album is flat-out EIGHTIES-style rock with a vengeance: super-slick production, booming electronic drums, 'metallic' and/or heavily chorused guitars (courtesy of session ace Michael Landau), and in-your-face synthesizers.
Thing is, this is slick Eighties rock at its best, and no, I don't mean that to sound like an oxymoron--this album is a BLAST. Sometimes the lyrics ARE 'dumb', but in an amusing, intentional way--Graham seems to have his tongue firmly in cheek on songs such as the riotous, insanely catchy opener "See You In Prague" and the intentionally 'annoying' and repetitive album-closing peace cry "I Got A Rock". The Paul Bliss-penned title track is TOTALLY 80's for sure, thanks in part to the additional vocals from Kenny Loggins, but it's a hook-fest that you simply can't deny. "Newday", written by Nash and longtime associate Craig Doerge, has lyrics that look bare-bones on paper, but the catchy guitar riffery, melodicism, and positive energy make it uplifting and impossible to resist. Nash also supplies a couple of raging gems with the cathartic, lyrically creeped-out "Keep Away From Me" and the massively-catchy, uptempo protest rocker "Over The Wall".
Graham wrote a couple of great ballads for the album as well. "Glass And Steel", the one song on the album NOT to feature a drum machine, sounds as though Graham may have written it about David Crosby. And "Sad Eyes" is an uplifting love ballad, with great vocal contribution from James Taylor.
Only on a couple of songs do the lyrics start to reek of mindless drivel. "Don't Listen To The Rumours" has lyrics that are just too dumb and unresolved for their own good, but dammit, it's just so appealingly catchy anyway. The reggae-fied "Chippin' Away" has a fairly dumb and predictable chorus, but the verses are irresistibly catchy, and the song's feel-good vibe really gets under your skin (Taylor is clearly audible on this track as well, despite not being credited).
It certainly doesn't hurt that Nash is in peak form vocally throughout the album, often double-tracking his lead vocals to excellent effect. If you're looking for concrete proof of Graham Nash as a brilliant singer-songwriter, you're better off starting with "Songs For Beginners". But if you're already a Nash fan and are able to appreciate fun, well-executed '80s synth-pop, then tap into your sense of humor a little, give "Innocent Eyes" a try, and you'll get a real blast out of it. "Innocent Eyes" is a true winner!