Neil Young - Sleeps With Angels
An album hailed upon its release as Neils tribute to Kurt Cobain and also as one of the best records he'd ever put out. I don't know about all that myself. Sure there are a couple of songs that seem to hint at being about Cobain. Sure, this album continues the rich vein run of form Young was experiencing 'Freedom' onwards. You know, this is a fairly unassuming record, all in all. I do adore the opener, 'My Heart'. Over the simplest of melodies Young sings lyrics through verses then lyrics through the chorus, which repeats. His voice sounds wonderful, reaching and straining and world weary and loving and lonely, lost. Delicate and hopeful. You know how Neil sounds like that sometime? 'Prime Of Life' on the other hand is mid-tempo, indistinct yet with a great sound from the musicians. Again, it's a song that doesn't really seem to be trying to grab you by the balls in terms of rock music, nor is it a song that is obviously a sweet commercial ballad. 'Driveby' is another slowish song. You see, at this stage, nice as the album seems to be, nothing seems overly essential Neil Young. The title track has a bit of bite about it in rock terms and arrives as a welcome sonic diversion. It's a very decent track with a live sound and vocal melodies seemingly ignoring the backing group, yet deliberately so. A switch back to the simple understated beauty of 'My Heart' for 'Western Union' and suddenly this album which i've already embraced, yet admitted in my heart isn't perfect..... becomes something precious. It becomes comforting. I'm not at all sure why this should be, though. Makes this a pretty useless record review, doesn't it? Well, sometimes music isn't science. Sometimes the colour green isn't produced by conciously taking the elements yellow and blue. Sometimes you're just painting in green. You know, because it looks nice and means something to you.
The six minute long 'Blue Eden' starts with slow guitar instrumental groove. It has feeling. The vocals come in, it sounds lonely. 'Safecart Cart' is another one of those Neil Young paintings, best appreciated by hearing, rather than trying to take apart and piece logically back together again. It's no classic, as no individual song from this set is, really. Yet, put together, well. Well, it's still no classic, but it's close. It's an album for cold, dark nights. It'll send you someplace and you won't quite know where you are exactly. Like a dream that becomes a nightmare at a certain part of the night, then changes. You awake and know you've experienced strong emotions, yet you don't quite know exactly why? Perhaps i'm just incoherantly rambling, yet also perhaps that is quite appropriate for a Neil Young review?!! Anyways, great sequencing for the album. 'Train Of Love' picks you up a little after 'Safeway Cart', 'Trans AM' is driving through the woods late at night. 'Piece Of Crap' is great Rock n Roll. Such welcome relief! The closing song seems to be a sister to 'My Heart'. "The cupboards are bare but the streets are paved with gold", sings Neil. He also tells us he saw a young girl that didn't die as the song suddenly seems to be gospel music from some kind of parallel universe. We don't know what gospel it is, exactly. Doesn't bother me. It's Neil Young. A dark, miserable album yet a dark, miserable album that uplifts you. Quite clever, really.
My Heart / Prime Of Life / Driveby / Sleeps With Angels / Western Hero / Change Your Mind / Blue Eden / Safeway Cart / Train Of Love / Trans Am / Piece Of Crap / A Dream That Can Last