Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Americana

Neil Young covers a collection of antique American folk and country standards.

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Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Exploring a musical path that many have trodden before, including Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, the veteran Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young uses his first reunion in nine years with his occasional backing band Crazy Horse to cover a selection of antique American folk and country standards.

Hardly an original notion, but Young's approach is impressively unorthodox and even subversive. Reinstating long-forgotten verses, shamelessly rewriting melodies and blasting them out in ragged electric-guitar arrangements, he reinvents dusty museum pieces such as Oh Susannah and She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain as ear-bashing garage-rock protest songs.

Americana feels at times like a rehearsal-room indulgence that got out of hand. That said, the best tracks really shine. One of the oddest inclusions is the vintage British royal salute God Save the Queen, a bold digression from the album's umbrella theme, which is reborn as a thundering stadium-punk juggernaut with a martial beat and a rousing gospel-style backing choir. This is an uneven collection overall, but agreeably irreverent and sporadically inspired.