Neil Young is now into his fifth decade as a musician. In an alternative universe, his early seventies albums After The Goldrush and Harvest would still be seen as his career high points and he would be continuing to churn out albums that sounded a bit like them, only not as good.
However, we live in the best of all possible worlds, and one of the many things Neil Young has shown himself capable of is working within different genres. Sure there have been others too (Elvis Costello and David Bowie) but Young manages to keep his musical mind active and his audiences on their toes. It’s not to take away from Harvest and Goldrush, but Young is at his most exciting when he’s investigating other areas.
What makes Le Noise so special is that the album is just Young and his electric guitar, and being fantastically well produced by Daniel Lanois. Lanois has channelled the voice and guitar so that bass, drums, keys (whatever) do not feel conspicuous by their absence, but instead this feels like a warm album, intense in the best possible way.
And the approach that Young and Lanois have taken should not detract from the fact that the songs are pretty awesome, too. Highlights are the opening ‘Walk With Me’ and the quite possibly autobiographical ‘The Hitcher’ where Young reflects on drug use. Young has been pretty prolific over his career, and I still feel that this is one of his best albums for some time, certainly superior to recent offerings like Fork In The Road and Living With War. The Wire’s review suggested that he do something similar, produced by Sunn o)))’s Stephen O’ Malley. Sounds good to me, too…