The Music Box's #1 album of 2005
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2005, Volume 12, #9
Written by John Metzger
Following the mammoth success of his epic tale Greendale, Neil Young alluded to the notion that he might retire from writing new material. However, confronted by his father’s death, which came after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, and faced with his own mortality after being diagnosed with a potentially fatal brain aneurysm, he found within himself the inspiration to craft his latest masterpiece Prairie Wind. Musically, the collection straddles the line that separates the country-folk of Harvest from the subdued, blues-inflected stomp of Tonight’s the Night, though Young employs several notable twists to embellish and color his compositions. On No Wonder, for example, a heavenly gospel choir tugs against a guitar’s snarling hellfire; horns punctuate Far from Home’s jaunty remembrance of a distant childhood; and a string section catches the tears that stream from Only a Dream.
What binds the pieces of Prairie Wind together, however, are Young’s strikingly emotional lyrics, which arguably are the most revealing and intimate that he has penned since Tonight’s the Night. Indeed, throughout the set, he links together the past, the present, and the future by invoking many of the images and themes that long have surfaced within his work, but what’s different from many of his other outings is that, this time, the songs take on a greater resonance simply because of the context from which they sprang. Although there is a world-weary air of death, sadness, and mourning that hangs over the affair, there also are beacons of light that reflect within the hazy darkness of his fragmented memories. Full of bittersweet reflection, Prairie Wind finds Young bidding farewell to his Canadian homeland, his father, his family, his guitar, and Elvis, and the end result is a spiritual journey that encapsulates the fragile and fleeting nature of life itself. ½
Of Further Interest...
Prairie Wind is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box