Published May 19, 2014Neil Young is around 50 years into his career, but he still remains interesting and unpredictable. He has turned plenty of heads this year with A Letter Home, a covers album that he recorded in Jack White's straight-to-vinyl booth at Third Man Records. Ahead of the album's box set and digital release on May 27, it's available to stream in full on Exclaim.ca.
The sound quality is almost impossibly lo-fi, with every moment overlaid with fragile warbling and scratchy surface noise. It begins with a message to the afterlife, with Young addressing his late mother. The rest of the album is similarly misty-eyed and nostalgic, as the singer covers classic tracks by the likes of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, the Everly Brothers, Bert Jansch, Gordon Lightfoot and Willie Nelson.
His version of Jansch's "Needle of Death" is particularly affecting, with the shoddy recording quality complementing the song's tragic lyrics about drug use. For the most part, Young's voice is accompanied by only his acoustic guitar, although there's some saloon piano on a few cuts, and White pops up on Nelson's "On the Road Again" and the Everlys' "I Wonder If I Care as Much."
Hear it below.