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Neil Young’s New Album is a Difficult Listen

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Neil Young: A Letter Home (Warner Bros.)

neilyoung.com

Given that singer-guitarist Neil Young and singer-guitarist Jack White are two of rock's most eccentric characters, a collaboration between the two of them was bound to happen. And said collaboration was bound to be weird. Young recorded this collection of covers with White on a refurbished 1947 Voice-O-Graph recording booth at the Nashville headquarters of White's label. It commences with the title track, a spoken word bit in which Young greets his late mother by telling her about his life. Young and White intended for the album to sound like an old Smithsonian recording, and in that respect, they succeed. Young's quivering vocals on the Everly Brothers' tune "I Wonder if I Care As Much" sound really rustic. And the same goes for his rendition of Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind," a song he turns into a primitive folk ballad that sounds more like something you'd expect from Bonnie Prince Billy. In the end, though, this album is more intriguing on paper than it is in reality.

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