At its strongest, Silver & Gold is a beautiful and evocative as similarly laid back classics like Comes a Time or Harvest Moon. At its weakest, the album is too lethargic and, perhaps worse, naval-gazing. Neil's always been best at talking about himself (as opposed to, say, being more of a storyteller), but sometimes when he gets too specific he makes his music seem too self-serving. "Daddy Went Walkin'" rubs me the wrong way every time I hear it, not the least because, like George Carlin before me, it bothers me to hear a grown man refer to his father as "daddy." The song is simply Neil reminiscing about his dad without much of a point, and not to be a dick, but "I sure did love my pa!" is not a very compelling subject for a song. (There's also an unintended bit of comedy in its musical and tonal similarities to "Old King," a song from Harvest Moon about a dog Neil used to have.) Musically, I like the song "Buffalo Springfield Again," but the subject is a bit, um, literal, don't you think? And while nostalgia sells, I'm not sure its that interesting to hear a musician reminiscing about being rich and famous. (Also, since Buffalo Springfield's second album was already called Buffalo Springfield Again, I submit that the proper title for the song should be "Buffalo Springfield Again, Again.")
But I bitch too much, there's still a lot to like about this album. My favorite song is "The Great Divide," a delicate and slightly haunting song that touches the themes of change and regret in more abstract, poetic terms, a style Neil is better at. The other classic on here is "Red Sun," a song that sounds to me like Neil was attempting to write an Irish folk song. The entire album is similarly quiet and peaceful, but the best tracks tap into a fragile beauty that Neil had not much explored in the past decade.
Rating: B -. Inconsistent, but the best moments are classics that stand tall with his best work.