Neil Young + The Promise Of Real - EARTH

Neil Young + The Promise Of Real's EARTH is about as close as you can get to nature without actually going outdoors. The album, composed of live performances from a range of Young’s albums is not your typical live LP. Instead, these live recordings have been mixed with sounds of nature - rain, thunder, animals, insects and more - to create a truly unique and very earthy listening experience. And what better song to open things up than “Mother Earth,” taken from Ragged Glory and prefaced by sounds of nature.

It’s easy forget that you’re listening to a live recording, simply because of the remarkable quality of these songs. During “Mother Earth,” for instance, Young’s raw, powerful vocals are so captivating, that it’s only apparent that he’s performing live when the crowd begins to cheer at the end. The following song, “Seed Justice,” however, has a more raw feeling. It’s this song that the animal noises are really utilized for the first time, cutting in during guitar solos, verses and even a chorus. At first, the animal noises threaten to feel a bit cheesy, but along with the prominent lyrics about loving earth and seeking justice for the land, it really does make sense.

Easily one of the best parts about this release is the way that the songs flow well into one another on top of the overall theme. “My Country Home” and the following “The Monsanto Years” are a great example of this. The way the rooster noises cut in with the guitar work in “My Country Home” works well, and the sound of chickens carry the track into “The Monsanto Years” with ease. Close your eyes, and you’ll feel as if you’re sitting there watching Young play in your backyard.

One would think that a song like “Vampire Blues” wouldn’t necessarily fit the theme or mood of EARTH, but that is not the case. While the mood certainly does change with the sound of crows bringing in the song and mice scurrying through your speakers later, it totally works. The use of these additional sounds is flawless, adding to the mood rather than taking away.

Where the first half of EARTH kicks off with sounds of nature, “Big Box” starts with the sounds of the city, a strong contrast from the beginning. This really drives the message home, as you almost long for the sounds of a farm or an open field as opposed to the cars and busses. The same theme continues in “People Want To Hear About Love,” which shines vocally and lyrically. The irony comes in the middle of the song, when you can hear sirens and car horns while Young croons, “People want to hear about love.”

“Wolf Moon” then brings us back to that focus on nature, especially in the end of the song, which fittingly features wolves howling. This then transitions into the massive final track, “Love & Only Love” from Ragged Glory, featuring spectacular guitar work and a grittiness that serves as the perfect closer. While long, this song gives us a taste of every other element on the album, which overall is an incredible look at the close ties between music and nature. The way the Neil Young has managed to mesh these sounds of nature along with his raw and gritty performances is not only unlike any live album before it, but is also incredibly powerful. These elements drive the message home even for those who don’t want to think too deeply, and serve as a conversation starter and beautiful soundtrack for those on the same page as Young. EARTH is a must-listen.

Rating: 4/5

Listen to "People Want To Hear About Love" & "My Country Home"

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