Thursday, April 15, 2010

Déjà Vu (as a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)

I can only imagine how weird this seemed to music fans at the time. Yes, Neil Young and Stephen Stills had been in Buffalo Springfield together, so there was likely some chemistry between them. But otherwise, why would the mellow folk-rock trio of Crosby, Stills & Nash, known for their agreeable vocal harmonies, want to join forces with a guy who sings like he's Kermit the Frog receiving testicular electrocution? Perhaps they were hoping that Neil would be missing ingredient that would take their sound to a whole new level. The truth is, however, that Déjà Vu essentially sounds like a CSN album with two Neil Young songs randomly stuck into the middle.

Be that as it may, it's still a surprisingly good folk rock album. Neil contributes "Helpless," a pretty and evocative tribute to his homeland, and the absurdly titled "Country Girl: Whiskey Boot Hill/Down, Down, Down/Country Girl (I Think You're Pretty)," a sort of segmented folk rock suite that's not entirely dissimilar to "Broken Arrow." Neither is a timeless classic, but both are good, especially "Helpless," with its palpable sense of longing ("And in my mind, I still need a place to go/All my changes were there.")

As for the C, S & N portions of the album, my favorite track is by far the opener: Stills' "Carry On," a spirited folk rock number that takes a pleasantly surprising turn for the psychedelic midway through. The album is reasonably consistent, and I would say its main flaw is that its frequently amiable but rarely seems vital. Even songs I really like, for example Nash's "Teach Your Children" or "Our House" are very pleasant but also kinda boring. Their rendition of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" is surprisingly rocking, but a lot of the album is lacking in energy. And Crosby's "Almost Cut My Hair" is just fucking stupid, I don't care if it's supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. So I'd say overall you're left with a consistent, enjoyable album. For old people.

Rating: B -

1 comment:

Shenan said...

Whaaaaat? "Maybe it's 'cause I had the flu for Christmas/and I'm not feeling up to par/It increases my paranoia/Like lookin' in my mirror and seein' a po-lice car"?

That's gold!