ALBUM REVIEW OF THE MOMENT: EARTH by Neil Young + Promise of the Real
Here's an album review on Neil Young + Promise of the Real's new album EARTH released last week by Scotsman:
Earth.Thanks Scotsman. Nice. We get EARTH, too. Same frequency and wavelength beaming right back you and all the REAL'ers out there.
I get this album. It's on my wavelength.
To be clear, this isn't best interpreted as a live album, a concert souvenir. And to be honest, would a "normal" live album from 2015 really be such an exciting prospect, in the wider scheme of things? These raw performances are respectable enough, for sure, but if you 'just' want a great live album of top-class live performances, stop wasting time and put on something from 1991.
But this record is so much more than that, in some ways; more far-reaching, more ambitious, more creative. All the "extra stuff" (that people are so unsure about) is the whole point.
I'll mention now that this is a very dynamic record. You really have to crank it up, and then it comes to life. Hippie Dream simmers away at moderate volume, and then suddenly has you by the throat.
The Vampire in Vampire Blues is a particularly vicious character here. Almost as vicious as Neil's frenzied lead guitar playing on Hippie Dream (one of a few moments on this album that feel truly reminiscent of the masterpiece that is Weld). This violence all feels a million miles away from those nature sounds. And that's surely part of the point.
Rather than being a distraction, it's the integration of all the wildly-creative overdubs and animal sounds that allow this album to punch solidly above its weight. The field recordings are charming and soothing; the auto-tuned backing vocals are strangely moving. It's a very "wide" record that captures a lot. Beauty and ugliness combined: and it's not always clear from the outset which is which. That is, until Neil makes it obvious, as the songs break down into chaos.
For example, Monsanto Years, where the sound is so purposefully dis-jointed (and the overdubs so purposefully overdone) that you feel like the world is collapsing around you, like a hole is being torn in the fabric of time and space. You feel like you've been turned inside out. There are some great sounds, a great cross-section of life in all its forms.
It's scrappy, it's messy, it's fun; it has the same wild abandon (and the same happy appeal) as a painting done by a young child.
That's what he's done. He's combined the wisdom and shrewd observations of an old man with the joyous expressiveness of a small child. That reminds me of Greendale. No small accomplishment. Something to be proud of.
I'd like to send a copy of this review to Neil. I would get some satisfaction from saying to him "yes, I get this. You've got through to me. You've built something for me".
And I think he'd get some satisfaction from hearing that, too.
More album reviews of Neil Young + Promise of the Real's new album EARTH.