An equally appropriate title for Harvest Moon would be Neil Young Calms Down and Makes Bland Music for His Mellow Fans Who Don’t Like His More Raucous Music. Young experienced hearing difficulties after 1990’s Ragged Glory, and was forced to record something quieter. The lightweight Harvest Moon became Young’s highest selling release since the original Harvest in 1972.
Harvest Moon is pleasant but that doesn’t compensate for the dull songs. The ballad ‘Such a Woman’ is strangely affecting, the opening pair of ‘Unknown Legend’ and ‘From Hank to Hendrix’ are slight but well written, and the closer ‘Natural Beauty’ is much more ambitious than the rest of the album. At over ten minutes long, unplugged and using the same four chord sequence that Young used for ‘Cortez the Killer’, ‘Natural Beauty’ is monotonous, but is carried by the engaging lyrics like “I heard a perfect echo die behind an anonymous wall of digital sound.”
But there are too many trivial songs like the dead dog tribute ‘Old King’ and ‘You And Me’, and overall Harvest Moon is too bland to be interesting.