Neil Young: Americana – review

(Warner)

You can hear Neil Young addressing Crazy Horse at the end of Americana's first track. "It's really funky. It gets into a good groove," he says of their version of Oh Susannah. This leads one to wonder how he defines "funky", since his version resembles nothing so much as a pub band playing Shocking Blue's Venus with different lyrics. And there's Americana in a nutshell: beloved songs from America's past, be they folk, blues or pop songs, such as the Silhouette's 1958 No 1 Get a Job, put through the mangle of Young's overdriven guitar and stretched to unnecessary lengths. It's like Bruce Springsteen's Seeger Sessions album, but with attention to detail replaced by one-take sloppiness. It sounds great – there's space between all the instruments, with none of the compression that blights many albums today. It also feels almost impossibly pointless. Where Springsteen used the past to illustrate the present, Young sounds like he's doing whatever comes to mind, which is surely the only explanation for Americana's last song: God Save the Queen. Not the Pistols, the national anthem.

Contributor

Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Americana: album stream

Neil Young is back with Crazy Horse for an album of US folk songs – plus his take on the British national anthem

Guardian music

29, May, 2012 @10:23 AM

Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale: Buddy & Jim – review
Americana celebrity Buddy Miller does a radio show with Jim Lauderdale, and now they've made a classy album together, writes Robin Denselow

Robin Denselow

10, Jan, 2013 @10:30 PM

Article image
Gwenifer Raymond: You Never Were Much of a Dancer review – fingerpicking good
The Welsh musician serves up a stew of bluegrass, blues and haunted Americana

Michael Hann

29, Jun, 2018 @8:30 AM

Article image
Billy Bragg & Joe Henry: Shine a Light review – Essex to Carolina on railroad songs

Dave Simpson

22, Sep, 2016 @9:30 PM

Article image
Cat Power: Wanderer review – the beautiful sound of the road to nowhere
Chan Marshall’s latest album adds Auto-Tune, Lana Del Rey and a Rihanna cover version to her folk, blues and American roots music. It’s the work of a woman going her own way

Alexis Petridis

04, Oct, 2018 @11:03 AM

Article image
Neil Young: A Letter Home review – a gloriously gloomy album of lo-fi covers

Alexis Petridis: In a career full of wilfully perverse moves, this ought to take the cake – but in fact, Neil Young's deliberately crackly, muffled covers album turns out to be a very powerful thing

Alexis Petridis

22, May, 2014 @1:59 PM

Article image
Readers' reviews: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Riversea

Adam Boult: Some of the best album reviews submitted by readers over the past few days

Adam Boult

29, Aug, 2012 @2:07 PM

Hurray for the Riff Raff: Small Town Heroes review – improbably playful Americana
The New Orleans outfit's twists on classic American genre material are postmodern and warm at the same time, writes Michael Hann

Michael Hann

27, Mar, 2014 @10:50 PM

Article image
Me and That Man: Songs of Love and Death review – melodramatic, sandblasted Americana

Dom Lawson

23, Mar, 2017 @9:45 PM

Article image
Hurray for the Riff Raff: The Navigator review – Latin Americana and flamethrower polemics

Caroline Sullivan

09, Mar, 2017 @9:00 PM