http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/a-letter-home-1399040723.jpg A Letter Home

Neil Young

A Letter Home

Third Man/Reprise
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
May 2, 2014

Earlier this year, Neil Young unveiled Pono, a super-high-def audio service meant to deliver us from the sonic crimes of the earbud era. For his next act, he's released an acoustic covers set recorded at Jack White's Nashville music shop on a Voice-O-Graph--a super-low-def 1940s contraption that looks like a phone booth and sounds a few steps removed from a rusty tin can and some twine. If it's meant as some kind of joke, here's the punch line: In its perverse way, A Letter Home is one of the most enjoyable records Young has made this century.

The track list spans canonical folk songs (Bob Dylan's "Girl From the North Country," Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain") and rarer jewels (Phil Ochs' bittersweet "Changes," Bert Jansch's mournful "Needle of Death"). Young's bare renditions – just his voice and an unplugged guitar or harmonica on most songs – have an unrehearsed sincerity that's easy to imagine getting lost in a better studio. There are some head-scratchers, too: Of all Bruce Springsteen tunes, why pick a third-tier single like "My Hometown" for a solo acoustic session over literally anything from Nebraska? At its best, though, A Letter Home plays like a crackly field recording from a lost world.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Hungry Like the Wolf”

    Duran Duran | 1982

    This indulgent New Romantic group generated their first U.S. hit with the help of what was at the time new technology. "Simon [Le Bon] and I, I think, had been out the night before and had this terrible hangover," said keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "For some reason we were feeling guilty about it and decided to go and do some work." Rhodes started playing with his Jupiter-8 synth, and then "Simon had an idea for a lyric, and by lunchtime when everyone else turned up, we pretty much had the song." The Simmons drumbeat was equally important to the sound of "Hungry Like the Wolf," as Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor stated it "kind of defined the drum sound for the Eighties."

    More Song Stories entries »