Silver & Gold
Neil Young’s latest venture into sentimental acoustic folk doesn’t quite measure up to the classic bookend albums Harvest (1972) and Harvest Moon (1992), but it definitely has some affecting moments.
On the opening “Good to See You,” he sings about reuniting with a loved one after being on the road for a long time: “I been down on the Endless Highway/ I crossed on the solid line/ Now at last I’m home with you/ Feel like making up for lost time.” With longtime Crazy Horse compatriot and co-producer Ben Keith providing pedal steel coloration, the song is a nice showcase for Young’s wistful, nostalgic side. Young also reminisces about one of his old bands on “Buffalo Springfield Again.”
On the title track, the grizzled rocker sings another simple, evocative song of love and the passage of time: “People come… Seasons go… But we got somethin’ that’ll never grow old.” It comes as a surprise that the song dates back to 1982. Also, the song “Razor Love” was initially written for Young’s 1982 synthesizer record, Trans. For the most part, though, these songs have a rustic, timeless quality.
But while Young’s guitar work and harmonica playing are solid as usual, his vocals are showing some signs of age. A few pinched high notes on “Distant Camera” and Young’s struggle to stay on key on “The Great Divide” nearly derail those songs. It’s a good thing Young enlisted old friends Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt to sing backup on tracks like “Red Sun.” But Young seems to sound best on the album closing “Without Rings,” which he sings in a lower register that bears a striking resemblance to Willie Nelson.
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