Reviews of the album...|
Are You Passionate?
Got the CD through the mail this morning and have listened to it a few times now, so I feel able to give it a fair review.
Let me start by saying I hated Let's Roll, and was not possitive about this collaboration with Booker T at all. How wrong I was! This is a very good Neil Young album -- and more importantly, a very DIFFERENT album. I am sure that this will split fans down the middle.
I would describe it as Neil's "Soul" album. Here are a few preliminary comments about the songs...
You're My Girl -- A weak start, I think. It's a nice enough song, borrowing music from This Note's For You's Sunny Inside. Unfortunately it's spoiled for me by Neil's out of tune, fragile singing.
Mr.Disappointment -- Wow, where did this come from? Very odd, very good. Is Neil almost rapping? Love the guitar.
Differently -- Again a strong track. Funky melody, nice backing singing. Weird feedback ending.
Don't Say You Love Me - We all know this song from last year's Euro Tour with the Horse. Nicely done here with Booker T.
Let's Roll -- Well, I just don't like this song. BUT... this longer version (5:45) is stronger, and there is some nice guitar work towards the end.
Are You Passionate? -- Lovely song, nice piano, beautiful lyrics, can't fault this at all.
Going Home -- Not the tour de force that it was live in Europe. Here it's less of a battle cry, more like a homecoming. It features a really odd ending -- the band is in full flow, Neil's ripping notes out of the guitar... then crunch, screech, it stops (and the next song starts). No idea what that is all about...
When I Hold You In My Arms -- Again a song we all know from last summer. Again a nice version.
Be With You -- Very obvious R&B feel to this one. Probably the most up-tempo song on the album. But to me, one of the weaker tracks. Not that I don't like it, it's just that it doesn't seem as well constructed as the rest.
Two Old Friends -- I wasn't sure about the live CSNY version of this one, but this studio version is is much, much better.
She's A Healer -- I just love this track. The really superb groove, the lovely muted horn -- a great ending to the album. Pretty sure this one will fly when played live. Ace guitar work throughout.
Hard to decide how highly I would rate this against Neil's other work, simply because it is so different. But I will be bold and say it's his best work in ten years! My friends Bry and Mark and I have been playing this album in rotation for the last week, and we all agree that it is Neil's strongest and bravest material in many, many years. An absolute pleasure to listen too.
I've been living with Neil's new album for almost a week now, and I thought I'd post a short track-by-track rundown for the benefit (and possibly frustration) of the less fortunate.
The ending of the song is weird... it just stops in the middle of a riff and we hear some short studio banter.
The song chugs along like that, with no chord changes or anything, until they hit an instrumental bridge around 3 minutes in. Then back to the groove. The girls and Poncho (?) sprinkle backing vocals here and there. Neil sings "All I got is a broken heart, and I don't try to hide it when I play my guitar", and then he goes into a great bluesy solo. Poncho answers with some lines, then a muted trumpet comes in from nowhere...
The song keeps building for over 9 minutes without ever leaving that tip-toeing, insistant groove laid down by Duck. Should be incredible live.
On a whole it's a good album. Not a masterpiece, but IMO better than Silver & Gold. Lyric-wise, it's interesting to note that with the exception of Let's Roll and Goin' Home, the focus is still on his family (as it was on S&G), but with a darker edge. Not as cuddly.
A couple of weaker tracks, a couple of GREAT tracks. Excellent playing throughout. But it seems the years are finally taking their toll on Neil's voice; he just doesn't seem to have any power when he goes for the high notes. He reaches them, but they sound very thin and brittle. I'm hoping against hope that the reason for the delay of the release is so Neil can redo some of the vocals...
Notable: not a single acoustic track, no harmonica. Whether it's going to shift more than 300,000 copies is still anyone's guess, but... I like it.
Happy like John Denver