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by Stephen Moore
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
The sometimes furiously productive legend lands us with an album of covers from America’s folk-rock archives, with varying results.
As its names suggests, the first album in almost nine years from Neil Young and his backing band mines the rich and varied history of American folk.
Naturally they opt for rockier interpretations of the everyman tales, which are mostly rooted in the mid to late 1800s.
Oh Susanna sees the band launching into the album with reassuring clatter and a band-of-rogues feel, Young’s wobbly nasal twang lending a ramshackle edge.
The Silhouettes’ Get A Job would be depressingly relevant were it not for its jaunty doo-wop delivery, and the warm country-rock of Travel On and heavy, ominous tone of High Flyin’ Bird are all highlights.
But it’s not all top-class. Clementine chugs away and murder ballad Tom Dula vastly outstays its welcome at over eight minutes long, making the equally cheerful Gallows Pole that follows feel peversely chipper.
The wholly unnecessary God Save The Queen is a jarring sign-off, too, harking back to the early colonial days.