Neil's new album 'One - Nil' is both a continuation of the experimentation of Try Whistling This and a harking back to the values and approaches of Crowded House.
Produced by Tchad Blake, a range of top notch musicians appear on the CD including Sheryl Crow, Wendy & Lisa, Jim Moginie and Jim Keltner. Despite Neil's recent stints at Largo there is no sign of any musical input from Jon Brion. Hope that particular musical union could be consummated someday. (Check out JB's 'Meaningless')
1 The Climber
A droning intro leads into an almost REM/Neil Young type song that soon hints at Neil's CH heritage prompting '..a smile between us.'. PS Has the e-bow become today's didgeridoo I ask myself?
2 Rest Of The Day Off
Mid tempo song that could have easily fitted onto 'Finn'. Atmospheric guitars with a bit of CH freaking out at one stage. Other phases of the track include a Bowie 'Ashes to ashes' interlude. A real grower ......
3 Hole In The Ice
Coming straight out of 'Rest of the day off' this is a pretty pacy track about....well I'm not really sure. Lyrics include Neil singing about making fire, Eskimos giving him lines for his songs and therapy 'one on one'. Happenstance perchance? Son Liam makes an appearance on backing vocals.
4 Wherever You Are
Familiar from Largo and an excellent song. Unfortunately here the drum machine intro irritates (though I admit that all drum machines irritate me!). Still, the acoustic version from Largo may well have the edge. Sharon sings backing vocals with Mitchell Froom making one of his many contributions to the album on keyboards.
5 The Last To Know
A slow ballad with a nice production. Lisa contributes violin, adding to the atmosphere, with Sharon on backing vocals - a 'true companion at your side'.
6 Don't Ask Why
'I've never been to heaven but it feels alright.' sings Neil on this uptempo rocker not a million miles away from something Sheryl Crow might write. Ironically she does not appear on this track. Wendy displays her many talents by playing drums, bass and guitar - how many hands does she have? Likely to be a standout song when the tour starts.
7 Secret God
Bucking the trend, this to me sounds better than the Largo version. Maybe it 's the additional instruments giving more light and shade. Some menacing/malevolent guitar work and I'm sure Neil will be proud of the jazzy, Steely Dan-like ending. ;-)
8 Turn And Run
Just another great Neil Finn ballad. Sheryl Crow shares vocal duties. Some sort of flashback to childhood perhaps with images of Neil standing with his 'plastic gun'? But he's with us in 'body and music and mind'.
9 Elastic Heart
Hmmm. Odd tune, odd lyrics. Unlike anything else on the album, I wonder if it is a nod towards Wendy and Lisa's background. The 'Black and White Boy' of 'One-Nil'?
Seems sharper and more driving than the Largo version. With the wistful
lyrics ('I could go at anytime') this is unexpected. I can see Neil doing an acoustic solo spot in concert with this one.
11 Driving Me Mad
Almost country and western in feel. Sheryl Crow again shares vocals. 'But most of all it's music taking me, It's driving me mad, Still I can't refuse' .
12 Into The Sunset
Really nice album closer. Would not be out of place on Together Alone. Reversed guitars, Mitchell on celeste and Sheryl on accordion.
Overall this is a very satisfying album with enough Crowded House touches to please past fans whilst moving forward with new sounds and musical partners and adding a number of new classics to the Neil Finn canon.