Fred Neil - Fred Neil (1967), 6/10

Fred Neil’s soothing yet passionate vocals make his mellow approach to presentation in his self-titled record more appropriate and interesting than his debut. There are still moments of energy like his escalation in “That’s The Bag I’m In” that work just as well as the easygoing songs. His original compositions are typically better than the three written by others, especially the notably recognizable “Everybody’s Talkin’” that is featured in Midnight Cowboy via Nilsson’s upbeat cover. Wilson’s harmonica blends well with most tracks and adds a modern folk flavor to a song like “Ba-Di-Da” that would otherwise be unexciting. “Faretheewell” is likely the best executed and most interesting re-imagining of a traditional tune to close out the first half of the record. The aesthetic and underlying sound of the album is consistent enough to make the music’s effectiveness entirely subjective and this can be heard most plainly through “Everybody’s Talkin” that is very well written but held back in accessibility by Neil’s peculiar stylistic choices. The consistency in sound makes the album especially mellow but also prevents it from being exceptionally moving. It is appropriate, therefore, that Neil never really achieved much success apart from others interpreting his works down the line. His talent and individually recognizable style, both in songwriting and vocal delivery, is apparent and praised by his contemporaries, but these do not necessarily combine to create an exceptional studio album. This can be heard again with his rendering of “Sweet Cocaine” that sounds like a very simple folk interpretation. Things pick up again with “Green Rocky Road” to align better with Neil’s style and tone before the closer shows a bit of bravery from Neil to explore new sounds. It may perhaps be Fred Neil’s best recorded effort but does not compete with contemporaries, particularly Dylan who was recording hugely influential albums during this time.