Neil Young Journeys finds the rock icon in a contemplative mood.
Built around a pair of solo concerts held last year at Massey Hall in Young's native Toronto and punctuated with footage from his visit to Omemee, Ontario, where he grew up, Journeys literally and figuratively traverses the breadth of Young's personal and professional lives.
Over the past 18 years, beginning with 1994's Neil Young & Crazy Horse: The Complex Sessions, the acclaimed singer-songwriter has maintained a relationship with director Jonathan Demme, who has an uncanny ability to cut to the core of even the most familiar Young material.
For the pair's fourth concert film collaboration, Demme plunges viewers deep into the sound mix and utilizes intense close-ups, thanks to a mike stand-mounted camera practically putting you down Young's throat. Added to this are visual flourishes underlining the thoughtful fury at work.
Young moves from acoustic to electric guitar, and occasionally incorporates organ, giving warhorses like Down By the River or Hey Hey, My My (Out of the Blue) a feeling of rejuvenation. At 66, Young's voice remains a wiry, frequently haunting thing -- a quavering tenor able to penetrate considerable thickets of feedback.
At one point, Young, reminiscing alongside his brother Bob at various spots in Omemee, remarks that so much of his past has been razed but lives in his memory. It becomes clear why, particularly over the past decade, he has been consumed creatively with not only documenting his career via the ongoing Archives projects but making a series of albums that bank heavily on sentimentality and nostalgia for a way of life increasingly harder to find. Here, in the twilight of his Journeys, Neil Young just wants to go home again, even as he knows he must move ever forward.
Exclusive: Angelika Dallas
Preston Jones is the Star-Telegram pop music critic, 817-390-7713