Album Review: Neil Young - A Letter Home

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It is super-ironic that the first album Neil Young releases after his Pono Music record-breaking Kickstarter campaign is an album that would benefit the least from high definition home audio.

"A Letter Home," the 35th solo album by Neil Young was recorded in a 1947 Voice-O-Graph vinyl recording booth located at Jack White's Third Man store.

It is safe to say that the audio quality found here makes Leadbelly's recording sound plush in comparison.

The record's real strength is Neil's personality, which comes through in spades during the two-minute album intro. He decides to use the recording booth as a sort-of telephone to heaven and he speaks with his deceased mother for the entire two minutes.

It's charming to hear Neil open up to his mother and asking her to please start talking to dad again, since they both happen to be up there.

It's an odd way to start off the album, but Young has made a career off strange decisions.

All of the songs recorded are covers with interesting choices like "Reason To Believe" (by Tim Hardin but made famous by Rod Stewart) and "If You Could Only Read My Mind" (by Gordon Lightfoot) are made extra poignant due to the spare, one-track, sound environment.

However, while A Letter Home is endearing due to the recording situation, the album does not have a whole lot of replay value. This is more of a conversation piece than a great album. I saw Neil Young and Crazy Horse rocking at full capacity in 2012, (well into their 60's) and that will always be Neil's strong-suit.

Interesting detours have certainly populated his catalogue, and A Letter Home is one of those detours.

The album, which was originally released as a limited, Record Store Day vinyl, will be released as a box set, compact disc and digital album on May 27th. I give it 3 and 1/2 Empty Lighthouses out of 5.

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