Sunday, May 9, 2010

Comes A Time

Comes a Time may be Neil's best album as a songwriter. His most purely folk effort (with just a pinch of bluegrass and rock), it is ten songs long, nine of which he wrote, six or seven of which are perfect pop songs. Or close enough to it. These are some of his best crafted, best structured songs, with some of his strongest melodies, all with maximum emotional impact.

It's clear at this point that Neil had steered himself away from the misery that inspired the Tonight's the Night era. Comes a Time more or less entirely consists of upbeat songs and ballads; it is not challenging or difficult in any manner. The songs are all pleasant, pretty and catchy. The longest song isn't even five minutes, so there are none of his monster jam sessions or rambling solo acoustic oddities. It's as straightforward of an album as he ever released. And I think that's its greatest strength.

I almost feel that I can't say much about this album. All I can do is list its songs and proclaim that they are great. I'm not even sure I can pick a favorite. I'll think maybe that I prefer the sublime, compact "Lotta Love," but then I'll hear the opening fiddle line of the title track and change my mind. I'll be moved by "Already One" ("We're already one/Now only time can come between us"), then I'll wonder if, in fact, "Peace of Mind" is the superior, sadder break-up song ("It's hard to face/that open space/You know it takes a long, long time").

Shit, even what is clearly Comes a Time's worst song, "Motorcycle Mama," has grown on me considerably. It's a silly attempt at evoking some sort of soulful, badass blues-rock vibe with a corny hook ("Motorcycle mama, won't you lay your big spike down?"). And yet... it commits so completely to its stupid premise that it brings a smile to my face every time. Doesn't hurt that it's real catchy, either.

Neil does an interesting thing, and ends an album of original songs with a cover of "Four Strong Winds." It's a little ballsy too, considering that Neil (rightly) regards it as one of the most beautiful pop songs ever written. It's a lot to live up to, but Comes a Time earns it, and "Four Strong Winds" is the perfect, beautiful, wistful sendoff to a beautiful, wistful album.

Rating: A

1 comment:

Shenan said...

I feel that this album is a good one to listen to when traveling far from home, just for the particular sentiments it evokes (at least for me- especially the ending song, but also "Peace of Mind," "Field of Opportunity"...lots). Which is why I'm glad I read this review tonight, as I am leaving for Far From Home, USA tomorrow, and might just listen to it then.