Unknown Legend / From Hank to Hendrix / You and Me / Harvest Moon / War of Man / One of These Days / Such a Woman / Old King / Dreaming Man / Natural Beauty
by Uncle Dave
After the angst of his early work and the metallic thrashing of the later albums, Harvest Moon reveals the true Neil Young. The Neil Young that was left behind in the post-hippie trauma that was seventies rock. With Harvest Moon, Neil finally grows up! Ragged Glory was Young at his snarling best - plenty of volume on the guitar and powerful lyrics to match. Arc was an epitaph to that period, an exercise in self-indulgent exorcism. Harvest Moon is mature. This is music not from the heart or the head, but from, and for, the soul. Neil's music is always fresh, often surprising, sometimes maudlin, intense and perplexing, but never until this quite so (aw shucks!) heart-warming. Harvest Moon is the quintessential down-home-mom's-apple-pie American folk album. It's one of the few Neil Young albums that you can share with the one you love, along with a bottle of something nice, without having to apologetically hit the fast forward button or move the tracking arm forward. The fact that it has undoubtedly won new admirers of Neil's work is due just as much to its refusal to conform to what you might expect, as to its undoubted wider appeal. "You and Me" could easily have been on Harvest, the other NY album to enjoy a mass audience, while "Old King" is probably too country for Country Music Television. The title track is one of the most evocative songs from the most evocative of songsmiths. It is pure beauty, one of those songs which you live, recalling long lost summer nights and inducing that sad nostalgia that comes from knowing you'll probably never quite get there again. If it has a theme, Harvest Moon is about love, and love in its many guises. That is love of nature, love for old friends, love for a favorite pet, and yes, even the standard boy meets girl is expressed here, and in a refreshing fashion to boot. While probably not the most favored album among Neil's hardcore fans, this is nevertheless a masterpiece. There is not a single weak track, and from the very first listen you get the feeling that you're seeing the real man stripped bare for all. Some people have found it very easy to be cynical about Harvest Moon, but then they've probably never been in love, and if you have then you'll know. This album would make such a fitting epitaph for Neil Young that it's scary. Whilst hoping that it won't be, it's difficult to see where he can go from here. But of course, this is Neil Young we're talking about.