Music Review: Neil Young + Promise of the Real, Earth

Published on June 24th, 2016 in: Canadian Content, Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Tyler Hodg

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There is little that hasn’t been said about Neil Young over his 56-year long career (and counting), yet the prolific musician continues to give people reasons to talk; through the constant delivery of unique additions to his catalogue both musically and visually, and an unapologetically-high standard for passion, it’s no wonder he has been, and will remain, universally respected as an artist.

Young’s latest project sees him joined by Promise of the Real for a two-disc compilation simply titled Earth. The album, which features live tracks from his extensive repertoire and the pairing’s 2015 effort The Monsanto Years, is a 98-minute long collection of what Young describes as songs about “living here on our planet together.”

Unlike with most live albums, the group flaunts the additional layers added to Earth in post-production. Everything from bird, bear, horse, and cow noises to city sounds and car horns are placed on top of the music to create a unique blend of natural, yet purposeful unity—a perfect representation of our planet.

The performance by the band is electric, and not just in an instrumental sense. Even with musical overdubs, the essence of the live songs is never in danger of being lost, and pumps forward with little to no let down. Also, the initially exhausting run-time melts away thanks to the energy that beams from the band.

While Earth doesn’t offer any new tracks, it does put a unique spin on previously-released material. Classics such as “After the Gold Rush” and “Love and Only Love” are met with additional sounds that augment what listeners have come to expect from the songs, and tracks from The Monsanto Years, such as “Big Box” and “Mother Earth” feel right at home in regards to the setlist and theme of the album.

Regrettably, it’s often hard to keep current with Neil Young’s catalogue when new pieces are added at an onslaught. In one week alone, his music comedy Human Highway, concert film Rust Never Sleeps, and live album were released. This method is essentially a blessing and a curse, as more is always welcomed, but an album like Earth might be in danger of being overlooked, despite the fact that it’s overwhelmingly worthy of attention.

And like the actual earth, this album is something to cherish.

Earth was released on June 17 from Reprise Records.

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