Album review: Neil Young - Storytone
PUBLISHED: 11:30 21 November 2014
Young offers fans intimate solo and lavishly orchestrated versions of the same songs, with typically mixed results.
Young may have released A Letter Home only five minutes ago, but there’s no keeping this 69-year-old down. Storytone’s two-disc deluxe version presents two career firsts; an unaccompanied album of original material, and the same songs recorded with a 92-piece orchestra and choir.
Potentially exciting and undoubtedly indulgent, Storytone leaves you to hunt out the best of both for yourself.
Post-divorce, Young ruminates on love old and new, his passions and obsessions.
Fans may forgive the awkward lyrics, technically weak vocals and songwriting that leans heavily on standards – he effectively treads water creatively – but even then, none of these elements sit well with the schmaltzy, Sunday-afternoon-movie orchestration tacked on to some versions.
Glimmer, an unashamed heart-on-sleeve song of enduring optimism, transgresses the rail lines of taste from the solo take’s vulnerable charm to the flipside’s overcooked Disneyfication.
Like You Used To Do fares better, transformed from hopeful soliloquy to upbeat off-Broadway blues, but his enviromentalists’ call to arms Who’s Gonna Stand Up? is overblown and tiresome.
Evangelising the enemy a few minutes later though, I Want To Drive My Car sounds strong, if unimaginative, on both discs; a lean, intimate, prowling and simple blues number performed solo, the revised version adds a ragged electric guitar and bright brass parps to piano, Hammond organ and a harmonica solo.
But on balance – and in a similar way to A Letter Home – this is interesting rather than compelling Young at his best.