Thursday, February 24, 2022

Album Review: Neil Young - Summer Songs

Neil Young
Summer Songs
*** out of *****

Like Hitchhiker and Homegrown before it, Summer Songs is an archival album that sat on the shelf for a long time, being recorded in 1987. Neil Young has now decided to release this sketch of an album (playing all of the instruments on it as well) and fans will recognize all of the songs, just maybe not in the same format, as these tracks have all found life in other Young associated projects. 

For example, opener "American Dream" (one of the best efforts here) captures the falsehood of the title, and it was so effective it became the title track to Crosby, Stills Nash & Young's 1988 album, except that version is cheesier than all hell. The core Summer Songs are three songs that wound up on one of Neil's best, 1989's Freedom. "Someday" is an excellent long piano tale that moves effortlessly, at almost seven minutes it glides by with less production than the album version. "Wrecking Ball" calls to mind days gone by in yearning fashion, and "Hangin' On A Limb" is a haunting acoustic groove not much different from the album version. 

The breezy "One of These Days" found a home on 1992's Harvest Moon while "For The Love Of Man" waited until 2012 and Crazy Horse to get onboard before seeing the light of day with a vastly different arraignment.  

The only song not to be officially released previously is the country tinged "Last of His Kind" which Young plays often during his Farm Aid sets. The track bemoans the vanishing farms and fits that fundraising festival perfectly. Closer "Name of Love" like the opener appeared on CSNY's American Dream and like that title track it works better here on Summer Songs, without Young's band mates and 80's production.  

Like other archival releases these are for the fans and Young's supporters will eat Summer Songs up, but their appeal shouldn't end there. While maybe not as illuminating as Hitchhiker or Homegrown,  these lesser known efforts display wide ranges of Neil's ever shifting muse and while basically just a slightly enhanced sketch/demo offering, it is a damn good one. 
Support the artist, buy the album and peep some video below:

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