A dictionary definition of Americana may refer to “materials related to the history, geography, folklore and cultural heritage of the United States”. In relation to music, the term is all too often used to described an artist who sits outside of the established commercial radio formats. In the case of this new album by Neil Young and Crazy Horse, both of those descriptions are applicable. The opening track sets the mood for the entire album; the Tim Rose-inspired arrangement of Oh Susannah that places the Stephen Foster composition in a minor key and adds the trademark Crazy Horse sound, taking it to a darker place than you would expect. This is followed by Clementine that includes rarely heard original lyrics that take it out of the kindergarten and back to the original story of death and loss. Likewise, Tom Dula leaves behind the sing-along folksiness of Tom Dooley and becomes the murder ballad it once was and Jesus’ Chariot reclaims the spirituality that was lost when it became the children’s’ song She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain. Some of these arrangements date back to Neil Young’s pre-fame bands, so Americana is a return journey to his own musical roots as well as those of the nation. Engaging, provoking and ultimately satisfying.
(Available in Australia from Warner Music Australia)
Review published in COUNTRY UPDATE magazine, Issue 66.