Monday, July 25, 2011

After The Goldrush by Neil Young

Neil Young is a singer/songwriter/guitarist and one of the founding members of American 60s band Buffalo Springfield.

More info can be found here.

After The Goldrush is Young's third album.

After the folky solo debut and the rougher, rockin' second record (recorded with the band Crazy Horse) Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, After The Goldrush pretty much sums up what Neil Young is all about.  It is completely representative of everything this artist is capable of. 

The beautiful harmonies (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young) can be found in several of the album's  key tracks like the opener "Tell Me Why" and the track "I Believe In You."  Both are slow ballads with gentle melodies.  Neil's high tenor vocals soar above.  The gorgeous harmonies also carry the chorus of "Birds."  I think one of the most overlooked aspects of Young's music is the harmonies.  While his voice is not known for being conventional and may be an acquired taste for some, there's no denying that he is able to include some exsquisite vocal arrangements to his music.

If there is any doubt that Neil Young is a writer of the highest degree, take a listen to the title track.  Surreal lyrics about Mother Nature and silver spaceships create a specific mood.  You can't really pinpoint what exactly this song is about in concrete form, but the images paint a vivid picture and sets the tone.  It's complete with some light orchestration that Young would take to new levels with his next album, Harvest.

The harmonies come back with the waltz "Only Love Can Break Your Heart."  It's a light. easy tune as would definitely fit right into place on later albums like Harvest and Prairie Wind.  The Beach Boys could have done a cover of this song and it would have been a nice fit.

Of course, Neil Young is known for the incredible noise he can make with his electric guitar.  While not really known as a master of the instrument al la Eric Clapton., he is know for conjuring some amazing sounds from his guitar.  "Southern Man" is the first example of this.  Rambling, yet scorching guitars help paint this Southern nightmare.  This track may have pissed Lynyrd Skynyrd off, but there's no denying the fact that song burns.

The piano driven throwaway tune "Til The Morning Comes" is a pleasant melody but feels incomplete.  But it does manage to cleanse the palate of "Southern Man."  It also sets up the slow waltz of the depressing "Oh, Lonesome Me."  Hank Williams it ain't, but it certainly shows Young's ability to write a pretty good breakup song. 

To prove that "Southern Man" was no fluke, the burning guitars make a return an d "When You Dance You Can Really Love."  The rumbling guitars are here along with the harmonies.  It's a perfect sequel to "Cinnamon Girl" with a driving beat and a growling guitar riff.

The album closes with the singalong of "Cripple Creek Ferry," a short tale of a river cruise.  It could have been a Civil War ballad handed directly to Neil from am ghost.

After The Gold Rush is consumate Young and avoids some of the extremes that later albums would steer toward.  The next album, Harvest, may boast some of his biggest hits and brought him to prominence, but that record lives in a specific place and doesn't really give as complete a picture of Neil Young as this one does.  In other words, if you are curious about Neil Young and want to avoid compilations or hits packages, this is a very good place to start.


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