Music Review: Neil Young's Americana

By Vanessa Butler

Neil Young brings old American folk songs back to life in his latest album with Crazy Horse, Americana.

Neil Young’s latest record, Americana, has something odd about it. It’s as if the album was based off an old Saturday Night Live scene, possibly even a concept that was scrapped at dress rehearsal. In the sketch, Young, adorned with his signature cowboy hat, checkered shirt and tattered jeans, would walk onto an infomercial set to croon his way through schoolyard hits like “Clementine,” “Oh Susannah” or “This Land Is Your Land.” But Americana does cover songs that you’ve known since kindergarten and it is very much real. It’s the first album we’ve heard from Neil Young and the original members of Crazy Horse in 16 years, and despite its quirks there is something endearing about it.

“Americana is rich a collection [sic] of classic American compositions, some dating back 200 years or more,” stated the press release sent out earlier today. “Each has its own unique history veiled with multiple meanings and relatable, lyrical significance as applicable today as they were in the America of yesteryear.”

While his rousing rearrangement of “Jesus’ Chariot” will never replace “Harvest,” the gritty musical makeover of “Oh Susanna” and “My Darling Clementine” are reminiscent of Young’s songs “Tonight’s the Night” and “Powderfinger,” for those fans that just can’t shake the fact that these are all renditions of public-domain songs.

We’ve never anticipated that we’d hear Young sing any of these campfire songs, but we’ve been given a whole album of them and damn us if we don’t try to like it.


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