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A Very Good Year
A series covering the 15 best music releases of 2014
10. Neil Young - A Letter Home
Key tracks: "A Letter Home Intro," "Changes," "If You Could Read My Mind," "I Wonder if I Care as Much"
Of all the many one-off projects Neil Young has indulged in A Letter Home is his most heartfelt. He performed this collection of songs, which are each personally meaningful to him, live in an old fashioned recording booth at his friend Jack White’s record store in Nashville. Each track, from the heart-wrenching message to his mother “A Letter Home Intro” to the Everly Brother’s “I Wonder if I Care as Much,” is warm and moving.
Young’s song selection is diverse and interesting. It begins with troubled folk singer Phil Och’s gorgeous, underrated “Changes.” Gordon Lightfoot doesn’t often get his due but two of his tracks, “Early Morning Rain” and perfect breakup song “If You Could Read My Mind” are performed here lovingly. Classics like Dylan’s “Girl From North Country” and Willie Nelson’s “Crazy” and “On the Road Again” are given fairly straightforward, but no less engaging, readings. The sound of the old fashioned recording equipment, with its pops and clicks, gives the album a spooky atmosphere that fits the songs and the concept.
One of the most endearing things about Neil Young is that he does whatever he wants. It doesn’t always work but it’s difficult not to be drawn in by the emotional performances on A Letter Home.
Next: 9. Bill Mallonee - Winnowing
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik's music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.