I’ve had my ears in the new Neil Young album, Le Noise, for the past week. Though I was suspicious going into it (hence my delay in picking up the album, which was released in September), I must say that Neil’s still got it. It’s a great album from start to finish (no filler for a change), and contains some of the best lyrics of Neil’s career. It might be the best work he’s done since Mirrorball, though I’ll leave that to you to decide.
Le Noise is a great album because it’s focused. It’s just Neil and a guitar for 38 minutes, and the songs hold together thematically, sonically, and lyrically. There’s a definite feel to the album, which is always something that I love albums to have. The songs really pull you in and open up beautifully after a few listens. The album was recorded in a Los Angeles mansion, and produced by one of my favourite producers (and a formidable Canadian songwriter in his own right), Daniel Lanois.
Anyway, the reason I’m blogging about this album is to share a track called “Love and War” with you. It’s one of my favourites. This video captures Neil singing the song in the mansion. The simplicity and pointed lyrics are captured perfectly with the intimate black-and-white camera work.
And for fellow production nerds, here’s Daniel Lanois walking around the mansion explaining the concepts that shaped the sound he and Young were aiming for with this album. I especially like how Lanios made use of the old organ bellows, and his reason for not letting Neil use headphones during recording.