He begins the soulful journey with the self-titled “Young Americans”, a track that delves heavily into saxophone and background vocals to illustrate a more funk focused rendition of Bowie’s America. David Sanborn worked with Bowie to bring together the constant saxophone and backing vocal banter that is consistently present through Young Americans. Together, the two created a memorable journey of shallow percussion, spacious horns and vocal performances, and a focus on experimentation through using the environment as an instrument. In the following track, “Win”, Bowie relies on the acoustics of the electric guitars and the reverberation of the backing vocals to create a large amount of space. “Win” is a beautiful display of string ensembles that play a wonderful mix of backing and foreground layering that works synonymously with Bowie’s classy, silk voice that transfers over the instrumental like satin.
When discussing Young Americans, the conflicting style can be pointed out with “Right”, and “Somebody Up There Likes Me” as they are simultaneously, two tracks that follow each other and they both display how Bowie can transfer from a subtle, 1970’s-esque New York nightlife that paints the dirty streets of Times Square. While “Somebody Up There Likes Me” is a sunset-ridden glory track that uses uplifting saxophone and keys to illustrate a sense of beauty behind the idealistic thinking. Young Americans is a tale of gracefulness from Bowie, where he can rely on his musicians to work like fine parts of a machine that prove a sense of authenticity behind his compositions. Not only is there a fascination with the way that Bowie conducts himself outside of the studio, but being able to hear the raw, unfiltered emotion that he displays is simply breathtaking. In the final moments of Young Americans, Bowie displays “Fame”, a catchy, funk-filled track that uses bouncing guitar and a feature from John Lennon on guitar and on backing vocals. The track itself is fairly one-dimensional and feels great as a radio hit, but when compared to some of the other tracks on Young Americans, it does not compete quite as well.
Through Young Americans, Bowie is a mastermind of sound; he is able to display a true power behind the saxophones and vocals as well. Having Sanborn, a secondary pioneer musician to help Bowie helped monumentally. Without Sanborn, it would be difficult to imagine Young Americans being the incredible display that it truly is. David Bowie is the conductor, but every now and again he shows that he can use some help in creating an emotional display of glory.