In typical yin-yang fashion, Neil Young follows a rockier, more offbeat project - 2003's novelistic Greendale - with a more intimate, personal one. Prairie Wind harks back to Harvest and Harvest Moon, but it also touches on some of Greendale's darker messages of environmental reckoning and political recklessness. Dobro and pedal steel (from co-producer Ben Keith) set an autumnal folk-country tone, and Young burrows deep to reconnect with childhood roots. Truth be told, memories of "Daddy" and the "lone prairie" conjure an aura of good ol' days that's a bit syrupy, and the Elvis hagiography of "He Was the King" is simply beneath him. Young's aim is truer when he sticks an uneasy finger in the wind on "No Wonder," laments the brevity of things on "It's a Dream," and pledges undying loyalty on "Here for You." Despite its imperfections, Prairie Wind is as homey as an old quilt.
The sound, meanwhile, is almost as modern as it gets. I say "almost" because, whereas a bonus DVD offers the entire album in "high-resolution audio," it isn't the 176-kHz/24-bit DVD-Audio of recent Young releases but instead 96-kHz/24-bit DVD-Video. This from an artist who, in these pages, swore by the highest-rez DVD-A. So ultimately, the sound you hear in this wind may be that of DVD-A fading away.
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