Silver & Gold
For a guy once known as "the godfather of grunge," Neil Young can be quite a perfectionist.
He's been fine-tuning Silver & Gold since 1997, and previewed it out on the road in 1999. It was originally envisioned as a longer disc, but Young ended up slicing four cuts and turning them over to his mates for the recent Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young reunion album. While "Slowpoke" or "Looking Forward" certainly would have added to this, Silver & Gold still emerges as one of the veteran songwriter's most deeply contemplative works.
It is destined to have special appeal to fans of Young's quieter recordings, like Harvest and Harvest Moon. That's apparent in the simple beauty of the harmonica-tinged title track — a thematic follow-up to "Heart of Gold" — or the reflection and wisdom heard in "Distant Camera," which speaks volumes about Young's timeless eloquence. Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris' background vocals fit perfectly into the almost Celtic hush of "Red Sun," while Young even revisits past glories while singing about his first great band in "Buffalo Springfield Again."
Though it's primarily an acoustic disc, Young has brought along a typically first-rate band of backing musicians, including his co-producer Ben Keith on pedal steel guitar (check out "The Great Divide"), Spooner Oldham on various keyboards, bass player Donald "Duck" Dunn, and drummers Oscar Butterworth and Jim Keltner.