First Impressions: All Roads Lead Home by Molina, Talbot, Lofgren & Young

At first glance, one might think that All Roads Lead Home, the “debut” album from Molina, Talbot, Lofgren & Young was a more egalitarian Neil Young & Crazy Horse release, with the four jamming in the studio. In fact, it’s a compilation of tracks that were recorded apart both before and during the pandemic, with Ralph Molina, Billy Talbot and Nils Lofgren each contributing three and Neil Young sharing one that’s just him, his acoustic guitar and harmonica. Yet, despite the time and distance, the songs flow the way one would expect from an in-studio collaboration—no doubt due to the musical DNA the four have long shared.

An earthy folk-rock vibe emanates from the tracks. The opening “Rain” comes courtesy of Talbot and his band, which features—for just this song—Rain Parade’s Matt Piucci on electric and acoustic guitars, organ and backing vocals. It sounds like a long-lost outtake from the 1971 Crazy Horse album. (That’s a huge compliment.) It has a lived-in feel from the get-go, in other words, almost as if it’s been kicking around the communal subconscious for eons but just now slipping into the frontal lobe for us to enjoy while awake. 

As Neil sings in his lone contribution, a solo acoustic rendition of Barn‘s “Song of the Seasons,” “Seems to me I heard this song before/something about it rings a bell.” The same’s true for the songs that follow—Talbot’s “Cherish” and “The Hunter,” Lofgren’s “You Will Never Know,” “Fill My Cup” and “Go With Me,” and Molina’s “It’s Magical,” “Look Through the Eyes of Your Heart” and “Just for You.” There’s a comfortable feel to the songs, almost as if they’ve been knocking around our souls waiting for this moment to make themselves known.

I could delve into the songs track-by-track, I suppose, but there’s little need. Love and peace (in both their universal and personal facets) accent most of the lyrics, as does an appreciation for the fact that they’re still standing. Talbot’s sound is the most reminiscent of the Crazy Horse of yore, I think; to my ears, Molina’s songs possess an old-school Eagles flair; and Lofgren’s contributions are low-key in the way that his best works always are: “Please go with me/maybe we’ll do some dancing/especially if the music’s slow…” 

Anyway, longtime fans of Neil, Crazy Horse (with and without Neil) and Nils will thoroughly enjoy the 10-song set, I think. And for those who aren’t as familiar with them—so long as yours is an old-school soul, you’ll glean much from the grooves. All Roads Lead Home is well worth many listens.

The track list:

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