Friday, July 27, 2012

Neil Young- Americana

AMERICANA isn't exactly a new album; it's an album of American folk classics. AMERICANA isn't exactly that either, these songs aren't so much covers as much as reimaginings. The opening track for example, "Oh Sussanah," feels raw and built from the ground-up. The renditions here don't feel reverent, they feel like live, off-the-cuff, jam sessions. Many of these tracks feel like they were recording in one take, bringing an extra level of energy to these American standards. At its very best, Neil Young and Crazy Horse breathe new life into old classics. "Jesus Chariot" for example, has been played to death, but its appearance here on AMERICANA is exciting and raw. These archaic public domain standards sound familiar but here, they are rarely boring.

The album ends on an ironic "God Save the Queen." It feels like an appropriate and sarcastic ending to an album that never took itself too seriously. Most the album is fun, but the rendition of "This Land is Your Land" feels like it goes on too long. At its very worst, the album feels like a band simply warming up or doing a sound-check.

Equal parts reverent, ironic, and raw, AMERICANA will leave you hoping that this isn't all that Neil Young and Crazy Horse have been working on lately. Hopefully this album is just a studio warm-up for something more to come. Recommended tracks for sampling: "Oh Sussanah," "Jesus Chariot (She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain)," and "Wayfarin' Stranger." Most of editions of this album include videos for each song -- they are inessential, but a nice bonus.

Fans of Neil Young and Crazy Horse should enjoy the loose, 70's rock that the band throws down here. For the newcomers, this release won't give you a good reason to begin listening (it would be better to start with some of the earlier catalog).

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