"I wrote in my review of the recently-released-on-CD _Old Ways_ that I liked it as well as I like _Comes a Time_. A minor correction: I think _Comes a Time_ still has a slight edge.
So that you know where I'm coming from: if I were asked to name Neil Young's very best album ever, I'd dither between _Tonight's the Night_ and _On the Beach_. But by and large, my favorite stuff to listen to over and over is his acoustic material. (Not exclusively, but overall.)
That means my favorite 'repeater' albums are _After the Goldrush_, _Harvest_, the acoustic 'sides' of _Rust Never Sleeps_ and _Hawks and Doves_, _Old Ways_, _Harvest Moon_, _Silver and Gold_, occasional songs from his other albums (e.g. 'Ambulance Blues' from _On the Beach_), and this one. (Oh, and of course _Decade_, which is where you should start if you haven't listened to Neil before.)
On to _Comes a Time_ itself. I've had it since it was first released on vinyl; I liked it then and I like it now.
It's mostly straightforward country-inflected folk. For most of it Neil is accompanied by the 'Gone with the Wind Orchestra' (led by Grant Boatwright, whose last name is consistently misspelled in the liner notes; they also play on the acoustic side of _Rust Never Sleeps_). Crazy Horse sits in on two tracks, though: the haunting 'Look Out for My Love', and 'Lotta Love'. The latter was also a hit for the late Nicolette Larsen, who sings harmony with Neil on nearly every song on this release (but _not_ on 'Lotta Love'; apparently they knew she'd be releasing a version of her own).
I feel almost disloyal to Neil in mentioning that one of my very favorite tracks is the one he didn't write: he and Nicolette do an absolutely stunning version of 'Four Strong Winds', written by Neil's fellow Canadian Ian Tyson (of Ian & Sylvia, whose version of the tune you can find on their album of the same name).
At any rate, the whole thing is gorgeous from start to finish -- even the unexceptional 'Motorcycle Mama', which Nicolette manages to bring to life. And if you read the liner notes carefully, you'll spot one or two interesting guests (notably J.J. Cale).
There weren't any 'hits' from this album, but I think it's one of Neil's most consistent efforts. If you like his acoustic side and you don't already have this one, check it out."
Time has come today
running_man | Chesterfield Twp., MI | 04/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are people who would contend that `Comes a Time' is Neil Young's finest work. While it is truly a beautiful collection of songs, what it lacks is a demonstration of Neil's versatility, something clearly established on works such as `After the Goldrush' or `Rust Never Sleeps'. Neil can rock, and Neil can psychedelicize (a word coined by The Chamber's Brothers, doncha' know...), but that's not what `Comes a Time' is about. `Comes a Time' is a country/folk album cast from the same mold as his best selling album, `Harvest', but superior to `Harvest in two respects:1) Young is more mature, as a composer, as a musician, and most importantly, as a person. He is for instance, able to bring in the 'Gone With the Wind Orchestra' without allowing his music to be overwhelmed by it, as `There's a World' and `A Man Needs a Maid' were on `Harvest'. There are many subtle nuances in the musicianship that lend depth and texture to many of the compositions, beginning with the very first waves of his pick over his guitar strings on the opening cut, `Goin' Back'. And lyrics such as "In my new life I'm travelin' light, eyes wide open for the next move, I can't go wrong till I get right, but I'm not falling back in the same groove" from `Already One' show that Neil had exorcised many of the demons that had tormented him since the death of friend Danny Whitten, and his divorce from actress Carrie Snodgress earlier in the decade.2) Many of the songs on this album are as fragile and delicate as a pile of pick-up sticks, but Young is able to convey strength and conviction through their gentleness. He's killing us softly with his song. While `Harvest' will most likely bring you down, `Comes a Time' will lift you up.The only criticism I would have of the disc involves two songs: `Lotta Love' and `Motorcycle Mama'. The problem with `Lotta Love' is that it has been so darned overplayed. The late Nicolette Larson, who contributes fine `countryfied' background vocals to this album, and leads on `Motorcycle Mama', turned her own version of `Lotta Love' into a number 8 hit in 1978. It also is included on Neil's `Live Rust' album and the `Rust Never Sleeps' film. That's a lotta la la la la la la la la la's to absorb.`Motorcycle Mama', on the other hand, is more of a gritty blues tune that feels out of place here. Unlike the inclusion of `Alabama' to beef up the low-key tone of `Harvest', this album is shimmering enough not to require a wake-up call on track nine. It's a good song, and despite it's `Harley-ness', does manage to feel `country-ish'. Nevertheless, Neil should have left Old Black in its case this time.It's instructive that my criticisms of the album involve good songs. There simply is not one loser in the entire collection, and tunes such as `Goin' Back', `Already One', `Field of Opportunity' and the title track are among Neil's finest. Since you've already demonstrated your interest in Young's work by opening to this page, let me tell you that you can't go wrong in purchasing this disc. It can certainly be the starting point in putting together a Neil Young collection, and I guarantee that if it is your first, it will not be your last. Then again, who hasn't owned a Neil Young album at some time in their life? If you haven't, beware that there comes a time..."
A Huge Album Albeit A Quiet One
robert ostrovsky | San Francisco, California | 05/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Comes A Time is a seminal work from Neil. It has a collection of songs which shepparded me through my adolescence and continues to guide me today. It may come off upon first listen as a little too overproduced and too country BUT the songs are some of the most compelling of Neil's acoustic life. A song like "Peace of Mind" is staggering. The lyrics are beyond description. The melody tears through your heart and the music is the perfect blend of achingly beautiful guitars and voices. Other stand out songs are,"Look Out For My Love","Already One","Comes A Time","Field of Opportunity","Going Back", in fact there is not one song on this album which doesn't stand out as a classic for me. My first copy of this album I literally wore out from playing it too much. Now that I have the CD I hope it lasts well into this Century. If you love acoustic rock which takes you deep inside the human heart and the human experience do not miss Neil's Comes A Time."
Mellow in the best sense of the word
Daniel Rosenberg | Highland Park, IL United States | 11/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't get me wrong. I get a kick from hearing Neil rock, and appreciate "Cowgirl in the Sand" and "Like a Hurricane" as much as anyone. But for some reason, I always find myself coming back to this country/acoustic-flavored gem, and probably listen to it more than to any other of Young's numerous fine offerings. Maybe it's because I'm about the same age as he was when he recorded this, or maybe I'm just getting to appreciate the quieter side of life now that I have a young child. Either way, I find songs like "Going Back," "Comes A Time," and "Human Highway" just perfect. They bring me back to the late 70's, when I was a kid, even though I never heard these songs until I was an adult, and remind me of how simple and peaceful life seemed back then. Other standouts are "Look Out For My Love," "Already One" - which can bring tears to my eyes even though I've never been through a divorce - and Neil's terrific cover of "Four Strong Winds." This is Neil's best acoustic album, ahead of Harvest Moon and Harvest."
Between a "Harvest" and a "Harvest Moon"
Brian D. Rubendall | Oakton, VA | 04/23/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When Neil Young decides to go mellow, he goes all the way. He's been criticized for this, but when he does it right, it is very misically rewarding. "Harvest" staked out this musical territory, and "Comes a Time," though not as popular, is a better album. Highlights include "Look Out For My Love," "Human Highway" and the classic 70s ballad "Lotta Love." If you're looking for heaps of guitar feedback, look elsewhere in the Young catalog. However, if your tastes run to the lighter side of Young, this album is a must buy."