Neil Young
Americana


4.0
excellent

Review

by Joseph Viney STAFF
June 7th, 2012 | 29 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Forever Young

Having secured his legacy with his 1970s output, Neil Young has spent the past three decades mostly doing what we all dream of: anything he feels like. The 1980s saw him release albums such as Re-ac-tor, Trans and Everybody’s Rockin’, records that were legally troublesome and critically mauled. Still Young persisted and in recent years we’ve been privy to the lazy, shapeless Fork In The Road and the rough yet addictive Le Noise.

So it’s with some measure of expectant trepidation that we welcome Americana into his sprawling canon. His first album with Crazy Horse since 2003’s Greendale is a collection of traditional American numbers given the typical roughshod once over by Young and his part-time companions. The album shares more in common with the boisterous Ragged Glory and from the atmosphere generated by buoyant opener “Oh Susannah”, we know what we’re in for; brash, noisy bar-room rock that may plod at times, but delivered with an enviable swagger that nearly a half century of experience brings. The sing-a-long chorus is a true earworm.

Those of you expecting a collection of songs that adhere to the more traditional structures applied to them over time should really know better. True to form, Young and Crazy Horse set about maiming the songs, stripping the weight of history from them and recreating with a fervour belying the fact that Young should be drawing a pension under normal circumstances. “Clementine” is thrown at the listener with a passion that would make you believe Young has written it himself. Elsewhere, “Gallows Pole” trips along with a spring in its step and the temptation to pick up your guitar and play along is almost unbearable. Never one to miss an opportunity to fire an aside at perceived falsehoods and inequality, “Get A Job” is a timely ode to economic depression. “When I get the ‘paper/I read it through and through/and my girl never fails to see/if there is any work for me” howls Young, perhaps reliving the experience of his own hard times and relating to listeners who may be enduring struggles of their own. “High Flyin’ Bird” is one of the more powerful tracks on offer, Young deploying his usual off-kilter solos at various points as the band play on with reckless abandon around him.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Neil Young record if there wasn’t something wrong with it. “This Land Is Your Land” sounds too forced, too…happy, whilst “Tom Dula” suffers from being about twice as long as it should be. However, these are minor irritants on a record of real class, energy and vitality.

Ever the contrarian, Young abandons the concept of classic American songs with a closing rendition of “God Save The Queen”. Its military drum beat is married to a heavenly backing choir and almost inspires a heady dose of nationalism. Young and Crazy Horse sound like the band who won’t abandon the sinking ship, going beneath the waves as they play on.

In a world where many acts of a similar age rely on their past, eschewing their original passion and fire for heritage, tradition and tribute, it’s comforting to know that Young can both usurp these elements and carry on ploughing his own furrow.



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user ratings (61)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
Alex Beebe (2.5)
Crazy Horse sounds more ancient than the folk songs they're covering....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 7th 2012


6198 Comments


I've been meaning to get into Young's stuff for quite a while now...

Listened only to Dead Man.

Digging: Aeon Sable - Visionaers

scissorlocked
June 7th 2012


3511 Comments


make a start with Everybody Knows this is Nowhere, it's a classic together with a couple of others

his discography is huge though


Digging: Traumprinz - All The Things

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 7th 2012


6198 Comments


After The Gold Rush and Harvest are two other obvious choices, as I see from the Sputnik ratings.

DoubtGin
June 7th 2012


6752 Comments


After the Gold Rush is usually considered his best, I'd go:

After the Gold Rush
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
On the Beach
Rust Never Sleeps
Tonight's the Night
Harvest
Zuma

immortalizepain
June 7th 2012


381 Comments


Isn't this wrongly tagged? I thought it's Neil Young & Crazy Horse.

ThunderNeutral21
June 7th 2012


3864 Comments


After the Gold Rush
Tonights The Night
On the Beach
Zuma
Everybody Knows
Rust Never Sleeps

i dont like harvest and i also bet this album sucks

JViney
Staff Reviewer
June 7th 2012


322 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yes, strictly it should be Neil Young & Crazy Horse but I suppose it doesn't matter ultimately. Besides, somebody has put up a load of Beefheart albums in the Crazy Horse section.

RosaParks
June 7th 2012


14926 Comments


best this rules this guy always puts out good music

porch
June 7th 2012


8459 Comments


not sure if it'll have much replay value but sounded pretty cool on first listen

porch
June 7th 2012


8459 Comments


the later albums get pretty hit or miss but are still worth checking

ruled when i saw him in 2008

Spec
June 7th 2012


27188 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yay this got reviewed.

barbarian
June 7th 2012


341 Comments


Dude, Voivod, you've listened to like one of the albums that i doubt most Neil fans have even heard lmao. Sorry just find it amusing! Haven't heard this one yet but my favorite releases from him are the live ones like Live Rust, Massey Hall, Weld, Fillmore East, and Unplugged.

wabbit
June 7th 2012


7009 Comments


need to check this out. His last album was pretty fucking ace.

MO
June 7th 2012


18859 Comments


Nice. Good ol' neil young

Samizdat
June 8th 2012


301 Comments


Jo-Seph-Vi-Ney clap clap clapclapclap

this is probably better than that chromatics bullSHIT

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 8th 2012


6198 Comments


@ barbarian

I saw the Jim Jarmusch film back in the day and I was really amazed from the excellent blending of the film's plot with Young's music.

Dead Man is not highly rated in Sputnik, but I find it excellent despite.

Spec
June 8th 2012


27188 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Freedom was still pretty good.

Spec
June 8th 2012


27188 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The problem is that whenever I start listening to a new album I just crave his older stuff and put that on.

GuanoBumbershoot
June 8th 2012


1462 Comments


^ Pretty much the same for me, but I always like to give his new albums atleast a few listens based on how much I like his classics. Looking forward to hearing this.

Spec
June 8th 2012


27188 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This one is easier to get into than Le Noise was I think.



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