Reunited with Crazy Horse for the first time in nine years, the Godfather of Grunge has returned with album Americana, a collection of distortion-heavy forgotten American folk ballads.
Neil Young’s distinctive style is heard throughout the album, which was released last week. From the heavily distorted strum of the guitar to the last vocal wall, Americana bears the mark of the Canadian musician and his notoriously heavy backing band, Crazy Horse.
The album reinterprets traditional American tunes such as “Oh Susannah,” “She’ll be Coming ‘Round the Mountain,” and “Clementine,” giving each song their own distinctive sound with various musical styles, heavy guitar riffs and Young’s distinctive alto voice.
The grunge/rock sound that Young has become known for over the past 20 years features heavily on opening songs “Oh Susannah” and “Clementine,” whose highly distorted guitar tracks wouldn’t sound out of place on a Nirvana album.
While his signature grunge sound is very obvious throughout Americana, Young appears to be continuing his experimentation of various musical styles, with elements of swing and pop styles appearing at times. Songs like doo-wop tune “Get A Job” move away from his grunge roots by dialing back the guitar’s volume, letting the work of drummer Ralph Molina and bassist Billy Talbot shine through.
From “Clementine” to “Jesus’ Chariot”—better known as “She’ll be Coming ‘Round the Mountain”—Young shows an apparent appreciation for Americana, selecting tracks that hold a significant place in American history. He ends the album with “God Save the Queen,” a track which shares its melody with de facto United States National anthem “America (My Country, Tis’ of Thee).”
From the opening strum of Young’s electric Guitar on “Oh Susannah” to the last vocal note on “God Save the Queen” Young’s influence over these songs is noticeable and timeless.
—Photo courtesy of NRK P3