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Album Review

Neil Young, 'Dreamin' Man Live '92'

December 7, 2009

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Folk
Neil Young Dreamin' Man Live '92
Reprise
ESSENTIAL “Such a Woman’’

Demonstrating the subtle shadings of his work, Neil Young again offers up a solo performance in his live archives series. “Dreamin’ Man’’ presents all of the songs from his “Harvest Moon’’ album yet in versions captured along a 1992 solo trek staged before that record’s release. Even in their nascent form, these songs are powerful, soulful, and hopeful. “Dreamin’ Man’’ is not a mere sketchbook of works in progress, but rather an alternative rendering that reiterates the emotional heft of these tunes even when stripped to basics. With just Young’s voice and guitar work (plus a little of his banjo picking and piano playing) illuminating the songs, listeners are apt to notice fresh nuance in such familiar fare as “Unknown Legend’’ and “From Hank to Hendrix.’’ The former, with its lighter touch here, seems more celebratory than the stately studio take; the latter, done solo, is an even starker contrast between the durable and ephemeral. This project’s title track and “Such a Woman’’ are more potent when scrubbed of additional singers and players. Young contemplating what around him will last provided a framework for “Harvest Moon.’’ Hearing those musings in such raw forms emphasizes the work’s sincerity. (Out tomorrow)

SCOTT McLENNAN