In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Another showcase of their impeccable musicianship, and even more impressive ear for melody.”
Without ever listening to any of the music, the addition of Young to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young always seemed a little weird. Growing up in the 90s, Crosby, Stills & Nash were folky hippies, while Neil Young was the Godfather of Grunge. When I finally listened to a Young solo album, I realised he was a lot closer to my idea of Crosby, Stills & Nash than I ever thought… In the worst possible way.
Then I listened to Buffalo Springfield, and realised that Neil Young and Steven Stills were actually pretty good at combining rock and folk. Then I listened to Crosby, Stills & Nash and realised that those three were nothing short of amazing. So, with my hopes and expectations the highest they’ve ever been when thinking about his group of musicians, I dived into Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young territory, with Déjà Vu.
Everything I liked about the trio version of this band is evident in Carry On. The pristine harmonies, the intricate guitar work, the slightly psychedelic feel. At almost four and a half minutes, it borders on outstaying its welcome, but never quite crosses that line. Then it’s time to combine those pristine harmonies with a traditional country feel in the slide guitar filled Teach Your Children.
Helpless is a song I have always assumed is a Neil Young solo effort. It kind of represents everything I don’t like that much about him. The shrill voice, with very little in the way of instrumentation to hide its shrillness. I like Young a lot more when he’s belting out something big over an awesome backing band. And on Déjà vu, he had that awesome backing band at his disposal. It immediately picks up when the layers of vocals join in on the chorus, but the rest is just too tedious.
But all is forgiven when the sleazy, dirty guitar of Woodstock kicks in. Its beauty is in its simplicity. Just a straight forward rock song. Which makes the goofy elaborateness of the title track stick out more as just a novelty. Less a song and more a chance for everyone to show off how avant-garde they can be.
Things slow down for the gentle trio that is Our House, 4 + 20 and Country Girl, and it works as a great breather and pallet cleanser before Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young bring things home loud and energised with Everybody I Love You. Like the previous albums from other combinations of these musicians, Déjà Vu is another showcase of their impeccable musicianship, and even more impressive ear for melody.