Neil Young – Harvest Moon (1992): Review

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Produced by Neil Young and Ben Keith
Label – Reprise

It may have been a necessity that enforced Neil Young to drop his axe and amp, and revert to acoustic guitar for “Harvest Moon”, the 20 year celebration of his 1972 monster smash, “Harvest”. Having returned from the “Weld” tour to promote his grungy, feedback laden album, “Ragged Glory”, the singer developed a debilitating bout of Tinnitus. He pulled together the comfort of the cohorts who had previously served him so well, including Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, and arranger Jack Nitzche, to present a representative reflection of the progress he had made in the previous two decades.

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Where “Harvest” saw a confused, naïve 26 year old, “Harvest Moon” found Young worldly wise but still as confused. Part of the album is used as a confessional, lamenting nt marital break up and using the songs to plead for some form of reconciliation with his ex-wife. It’s all set to mellow country tones and the inclusion of Ronstadt definitely helps to support Young’s delivery, and her contributions seem to naturally support his vocal deficiencies. Where this works best is on the excellent opener “Unknown Legend”, the gentle longing love song, “From Hank To Hendrix”, and the chart single and title track. Where the quality wavers is on the silly banjo lament to his recently departed dog (“Old King”), and the dreadfully over long “live” closer, “Natural Beauty”. Weighing in at ten and a half minutes, it unfortunately leaves a less than refreshing taste, particularly given that much of the previous material is consistently good.

Overall, Young’s 27th solo recording isn’t quite in the same league as his 4th, but it’s a worthy, well performed “Follow up”.

7/10

Track Listing
1. “Unknown Legend” 4:32
2. “From Hank to Hendrix” 5:12
3. “You and Me” 3:45
4. “Harvest Moon” 5:03
5. “War of Man” 5:41
6. “One of These Days” 4:55
7. “Such a Woman” 4:36
8. “Old King” 2:57
9. “Dreamin’ Man” 4:36
10. “Natural Beauty” 10:22

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