Thursday, February 3, 2022

Album Review: Neil Young - Barn

Neil Young & Crazy Horse
**and 1/2 out of *****

On "The Shape of You" Neil Young sings "This ain't just a paint-by-numbers/I gotta be who I feel" and no truer lyrics have ever been sung. Young forges his own path at every turn, doing only what inspires him, like building a barn in the middle of nowhere and getting his old band back together to record in it. 

The clear companion piece to 2019's ColoradoBarn continues Neil Young and Crazy Horse's remote location recording reunion. While the first offering was tepidBarn has a touch more fire, but the same sense of aimless wandering, which has been a blessing for the players in the past, continues here and leaves the players lost in the present. 

With Nils Lofgren onboard the Horse, Barn opens with the harmonica and accordion accented "Song of the Seasons" and while pleasant, it feels incredibly derivative of past work from Young. Things perk up with heavy guitar tone as Uncle Neil finds his muse on the brief "Heading West" as piano supports the garage rock band, making for an enjoyable ride. Along with the classic sounding punishing riffs of "Human Race", which sees the angry old man call out all of humanity who have ruined the planet for future generations, the sparks of an engaged Horse ignite.  

Most of the rest for the album however feels searching, looking for that extra oomph. "Change Ain't Never Gonna Come" ends more like a demo, "Canerican" straddles that northern border and doesn't declare much of anything while "They Might Be Lost" literally feels like Young got stoned and lost...not in a good woolly rocking way either. 

The album ends with two tracks that seem just slightly off classics from Young and Crazy Horse. "Welcome Back" delivers a slow great tone from the band with crunchy riffs and low end but Young's lyrical tale of singing old songs, love and the past never truly comes into focus. Better is the direct and clear "Don't Forget Love" which closes out this chapter of NY&CH on a sweet note. 

The truth is, anytime spent with Crazy Horse is always enjoyable to RtBE's ears, but both Colorado and Barn seem to be proof that the silver and gold of albums past has tapped out. While Young is the ultimate surprising rocker and things could change at any moment, hopes aren't running high to a return to form from the aging noise rockers and that is OK as they have left a host of amazing albums in their wake.
RtBE loves Neil Young, featuring him in our Masters Series. Crazy Horse in particular is our favorite Neil project and RtBE wrote about them extensively. Support the artist, buy the record, peep some video below:

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