The opening melody of the song “Beautiful Bluebird” off of Neil Young’s newest album “Chrome Dreams II” (Reprise) begins with the familiar sound of his harmonica. The album, released Oct. 23, is the latest from the classic rock artist. “Dreams” brings out the country side of Young, while longer songs “Ordinary People” and “No Hidden Path,” running 18:13 minutes and 14:31 minutes, respectively, showcase his talent on the electric guitar.
“Dreams” captures the essence of Young’s character. The album is very politically driven with religious themes, but he carefully and skillfully meshes the two topics to create a soulful harmony. On the final song on the album, “The Way,” Young invites The Young People’s Chorus of New York City to join in on background vocals. The song is powerful, “matched with a soothing piano melody for a perfect and calming end to “Dreams.”
Other tracks, such as “Spirit Road” and “Boxcar,” have a similar sound to some of his older, more popular songs. “Boxcar” is highly reminiscent of “Heart of Gold,” a song popular during the early 1970s, with a similar tune and vocals. The track is one of the more mellow songs on the album, and its comparability to an earlier hit makes it easy for listeners to skip over. “Spirit Road” is a faster and more upbeat version of “Southern Man,” but the lyrics give it a new feeling. Many of the songs on “Dreams” have that quality yet find a way to make them sound new.
The album is not as good as Young’s previous work, including his work with bands Buffalo Springfield and CSNY, but he establishes a new side of himself that has not been seen. Some songs are destined to be hits, including the album’s single “Ordinary People,” which describes the working class and their lives. Despite its length, the song deserves praise for the lyrics as well as the music. “Dirty Old Man” has a hard rock feel to it and is probably the strangest song on the album. The song begins with the lyrics “I’m a dirty old man,” and it continues with Young describing how he “likes to get hammered/on a Friday night.” It has a strong drum beat and fast pace that separates itself from most of the other tracks. According to the liner notes, the drummer on “Dreams” is the same drummer from Crazy Horse, the band that Young played with when he was not playing with CSNY or Buffalo Springfield.
Neil Young is currently rocking in the free world, playing at DAR Constitution Hall this Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are expensive at $67, but it will be well worth it to see one of the greatest influences in rock music.