Neil Young - Le Noise
Neil Young can do no wrong because he doesn't think in terms of right and wrong, at least in the area of pleasing his fans. Maybe among all artists ever, Young has followed his muse and taken the heat in order to be free. The absolute authority of his inspiration over the demands of fans, labels and friends of course has produced a lot of shit along with a lot of gold. But his more outré or simply boring offerings can, along with his best, never be accused of laziness. Neil Young always seems locked in 100%, and on "Le Noise," he is brutally locked in.
Produced sparsely by Daniel Lanois, taking a break from his long time partnership with the entitled billionaire rock of U2, "Le Noise" features Young without a band, just his voice and his guitars, both acoustic and electric. On the latter, Young has always been the Buddhist idea of Beginner's Mind, being always open to .... At 64 he still sounds like a kid in a garage entranced by the power at his fingertips when he hits his first power chord. That ragged but right ethos is here in abundance.
Feral riffs abound amid bewildered but jaded lyrics on tracks like "Walk With Me," "Hitchhiker" and "Angry World," and while the acoustic tunes ("Sign of Love) are classic sad but staunch belief in love for which he is noted, the power is still the same. Young's voice is even more beautifully ragged solo, and the opportunity to hear that voice competing with an over-juiced electric guitar is hair-raising.
With Dylan in a second childhood, Lou Reed revisiting his free jazz and noise roots, and McCartney experimenting even more than he did in his 20s, it is a good period for aging boomers, tea party aside. But Neil Young has never stopped exploring, looking back, staying current and holding his own against the kids. "Le Noise" is a brilliant roar that almost any artist would consider a peak. For Young, it is his latest idea.
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