Ah, Neil Young, what would we do without you. The first solo album and a first masterpiece by the Canadian, “Neil Young” is an underrated LP, very melodic and with a distressing atmosphere that cannot be wasted extending his best compositions with Buffalo Springfield.
With a reflective lyrical and plaintive nasal voice, it opens with a relaxing and beautiful country instrumental continued by folk-rock and pop gems of beautiful acoustic passages. Its sentimental intensity is formidable.
One of the highlights of the album is “The Loner”, a superb rock piece with arrangements by Jack Nitzsche that begins to glimpse the central themes of this album: longing, desolation, paranoia, loss of love …
These matters are wonderfully signified in “If I Could Have Her Tonight” or “I’ve Been Waiting For You”, two moving pieces splendidly performed by a delicate, fragile Neil Young immersed in a ravishing melancholic process, lyrically underlined. by a complaining, painful instrumentation.
The ethereal “The Old Laughing Lady” is a captivating gem of lethargic tempo, epic ambiance, and howling female backing vocals (including Gloria Jones, future girlfriend of T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan).
“Here We Are In The Years” evokes with Beatle affinity piano and violin arrangements the simplicity and escapism found in natural existence, while “What Did You Do To My Life” contains a contagious chorus and hypnotic guitar work.
The elegance of the performance of “I’ve Loved Her So Long” is sublimated by its sentimental chorus.
Neil offers us an extensive acoustic and Dylanian exercise in cryptic imagery that is far removed from the instrumental modulation found on this great album.
Along with his own songs, Jack Nitzsche, who also collaborates with Neil and Ry Cooder in the arrangements and keyboards of some songs, writes the meager but wonderful instrumental “String Quartet From Whiskey Boot Hill”, a whole beautiful string orgy.
When Neil Young releases his first solo album, he is no stranger. Although he was born in Canada, he had been living on the West Coast of the United States for several years and had already published several albums as a member of the successful “Buffalo Springfield” where he had met Stephen Stills with whom he would later meet again in the super band “Crosby Stills Nash & Young ”.
This first album as a solo artist is sure not to measure up to the great classics that he would record months later, but it is a work that shines on its own and where Neil Young clearly outlines the outline of what his future career will be.
Perhaps the couplets are not completely polished and there are too many ups and downs between one and the other, but the quality is palpable in pieces like “The Loner”. Produced by David Briggs, a relationship that will last for many years, and with the help of friends like Jack Nietzche, this debut is a perfect introduction to the genuine Neil Young sound.