Friday, December 8, 2023
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Neil Young and Crazy Horse – All Roads Lead Home

Top billing for the man with one song out of nine, and Crazy Horse members are left floundering for the rest of it. Fans of legacy artists will always come to defend them, and to some degree that is admirable. What is not respectable are those that will die for the muddled and mediocre. Thankfully All Roads Lead Home, the latest collaboration of Young and members of Crazy Horse, has little of that. In fact, the latter half of this collaboration does well with the time they are given. It is Young who phones it in, extracting a track from Barn, slapping a live version together and calling it a day. In his place come some tremendous efforts from Billy Talbot, Nils Lofgren and Ralph Molina, playing individually and removed from one another with their own bands. 

Sidekicks coming together to cover for their frontman, whose name is worth more than his song. Delightful work on Rain gives a raw and moving country appeal to the opening moments of the album. All Roads Lead Home is as reflective as it gets for the elder statesmen of soulful country. Even Young, whose one track and the lazy inclusion of it is a snare for returning listeners, is nicely placed.  Song of the Seasons is a solid track but its inclusion here is lazy after its appearance on Barn. It turns an original piece into a smorgasbord of collected thoughts and ideas, a taster session for Crazy Horse tracks. It’s Magical is not the best of that repertoire but serves its purpose here. Young leaves it up to his country cronies to set the world on fire. 

But few of those tracks are the barn burners Young had hoped for. Cherish, a Talbot track that hopes to brighten the gloom but provides little light on all that wavering charm, is the first of many dud shots. Empty hippie notations of cherishing life and knowing to do so crackle through on that track and if it were not for the shimmering instrumentals, it would fall to bland pieces. Fill My Cup continues that dullard trend with a self-reflective and boastful track that fails to apply its country swing with much conviction. One-track ponies are what Crazy Horse can offer, and the fall-off after Song of the Seasons is staggering. Unfocused, hazy drifting on the tinny and elongated consistencies of Look Through the Eyes of Your Heart are stood up on a soulless guitar solo and jagged interruptions from the rest of the instruments.  

Talbot assures a steady quality along All Roads Lead Home, the winding paths of The Hunter are a return to form the album latches to. But it is all too little, too late. Had the stars aligned, All Roads Lead Home would have ended there. Instead, the emotionally wrought and simplistic double bill of Go with Me and Just for You rounds it all out. A dense and empty selection of Crazy Horse singles sound tinny and unrewarding as a concept. As a taster of what the individuals of a band can provide, fracturing their work into individual pieces is a pandemic necessity. Their collective, individual efforts are at least on the straight and narrow, consistent but dull and vaguely unpromising beyond a few bright, brief sparks. 

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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