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Tuesday, 10 July 2012 10:50

Charting the Music: Neil Young with Crazy Horse, 'Americana'

Charting the Music: Neil Young with Crazy Horse, 'Americana' flickr.com/photos/eitzel/3313815101
Written by Magdalene Linck
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Past and present American experiences are brought together in Neil Young with Crazy Horse's new release, the simply titled "Americana."

The album is a celebration of traditional folk music re-imagined by Neil Young and longtime band Crazy Horse in an attempt to reflect the gamut of struggle and pride inherent in the American experience.

88.1 KDHX chart position: #3 Americana and #8 CMJ for 7/3/12.

Record label, release date and producers: "Americana" was released on Reprise on June 5, 2012 and produced by Young, John Hanlon and Mark Humphreys.

Hometown: Hailing from Canada and based out of San Francisco, Young is a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter whose body of work spans five decades and has influenced countless other artists.

Band's previous albums: "Americana" is Young's 34th studio album and his first collaboration with Crazy Horse since 2003's "Greendale."

Band members and history: The line-up of Crazy Horse has remained the same since joining forces with Young in California during the late '60s. Featuring Billy Talbot on bass and vocals, Ralph Molina on drums, and Frank "Poncho" Sampedro on guitar, Crazy Horse provides a distinct edge to Young's modern interpretations of traditional songs.

Key tracks: "Americana" features tracks such as, "Gallows Pole," "Oh Susannah" and the Woody Guthrie classic, "This Land is Your Land." These tracks have gained the most play from the album, quite possibly due to their familiarity. While Young takes a somewhat traditional approach to his interpretation of "This Land is Your Land," his radical re-imagining of "Oh Susannah" requires a different, possibly more adventurous ear.

Lyrical content: The album's standout track, "This Land is Your Land," features often forgotten verses that question the freedoms of life in America -- most notably during the second verse: "In the squares of the city, in the shadow of a steeple / By the relief office, I'd seen my people. / As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking, / Is this land made for you and me?" Such a political commentary comes at no better time, given both the upcoming November election and the current debates over both immigration and poverty. It is the inclusion of these lyrics that forces the listener to reflect on the present-day relevance of the themes found in American folk music.

Current tour dates: Young and Crazy Horse have scheduled a handful of both U.S. and Canadian tour dates. St. Louis, however, is not included.

Can be heard on: Numerous DJs have been playing Young's newest work on-air. Songs from "Americana" can be heard on the Pop Life, Bittersweet Melody, Train of Thought and Time Warp Radio.

RIYL: Tom Waits, Lucero and the Band.

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