No slowing down in output for Neil Young. His 41st album is titled Barn and was recorded with Crazy Horse in a barn, which is kind of the most Neil Young thing ever. The album is neither a rocking out or rocking chair collection, rather a mix of styles. It opens with Song of the Seasons which is Young in acoustic mode. It sounds like it could almost have been done in his sleep, all winsome accordion and acoustic strumming. On the other hand Heading West is Neil and the Horse rocking out, having the crack. It’s a very straightforward number but it works. It’s a whole lot better than the hokey harmonica led workout Change Ain’t Never Gonna and the drippy Shape of You. The latter is another attempt to rewrite Green Green Grass of Home (after 2000’s Distant Camera) with cringey lyrics “you changed my life for the better, wore my love like your favourite sweater”. Not exactly a classic.
For those who enjoy Crazy Horse, the guitars are wonderfully rough on the relatively simplistic Canerican and Human Race. The first of these would be fairly awful if not for the Horse’s grimy guitar sound, which blots out all ills. Human Race is all rough guitar and little else, but what a guitar sound, and there’s a fair degree of vintage guitar shredding. Elsewhere, the moody, minor-key plodding strum of They Might Be Lost suits Young and the band quite well, while the piano-led Tumblin’ Thru The Years and final track Don’t Forget Love are pleasant but little more. The spooked out Welcome Back is excellent, in the mould of Down by the River or Danger Bird. At eight and a half minutes, it’s by far the longest thing here while also being by far the best track, the only truly essential one here.
Neil Young fans will find a few gems here to keep them going for a few months (till the crazy f*cker releases something else!). Non-believers will shrug their shoulders and move on.
Song of the Seasons