Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Neil Young - Le Noise (Reprise, 2010)

Neil Young Has played in many contexts throughout his career, but his most successful projects fall into two camps: playing blasting full band rock 'n' roll, often with the group Crazy Horse or as a bruised troubadour, with high pitched unique voice accompanied only by his acoustic guitar. This album beautifully combines the two styles, keeping the intimacy of the solo setting, but combining it with the power and scope of the electric guitar. He has written some excellent songs as well, lyrics that bite with power and vision, yet haunt long after they're are heard. "Walk With Me" opens the album with echoing feedback, and slightly buried vocals that recall his experimental album Trans. While that album hid his vocals in a synth haze, this album lets them weave in and out of the deft guitar work, developing an intricate textured pattern. "Love and War" echoes the meditations on conflict and reconciliation that have been a driving theme of Young's music since the mid 1960's. Juxtaposing the horror of conflict with the battles within the soul makes for a very potent and powerful statement. "Angry World" is the flipside of the former song's ruminative nature, spitting bile and raging against the shallow conflict and brutality of the modern age. "Hitchhiker" is another highlight, a haunted tale of drug use and consequences that rivals Young classics like "Sedan Delivery" and "Cocaine Eyes." The ballad singing troubadour makes and an appearance on the lengthy "Peaceful Valley Boulevard" a subtle ballad that spins its tale out over seven minutes. That lengthy story song is an anomaly for this album, which is very tight and well woven, clocking in at an LP length 38 minutes. There's hardly a minute wasted though, the songwriting and guitar playing are excellent and memorable. It's a fascinating album to listen to, almost as if Young is casting a wary eye back to the themes that have defined his past while restlessly moving forward toward new vistas. Neil Young - Le Noise

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