A Letter Home
At this point, Neil Young doesn't care about impressing anyone. He makes albums for himself, and has no reservations about breaking convention. For his thirty-fifth album (not a typo), A Letter Home, he’s teamed up with fellow visionary Jack White to challenge our standards of fidelity. Recorded solely on a refurbished 1947 Voice-o-Graph vinyl recording booth at the latter’s Third Man store in Nashville, it’s a product that shouldn’t exist in the same era as wall-to-wall synthesizers and loudness wars. Crackles and pops colour the material, already tinny-sounding from essentially recording it in a glorified phone booth. The point of this vintage approach is to focus on the quality of the songs, mostly covers of late ‘50s and early ‘60s greats. Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Willie Nelson and the Everly Brothers all get the cover treatment with Young’s signature diction, with interspersed spoken word messages to his late mother. The same man that’s championed the Pono music player and pureness of sound has created an intentionally lo-fi effort to accomplish a very different purpose – it’s a statement on impermanence, the importance of songs, and a reflection of his own musical heritage. A passion project that pays off.
The iTunes deluxe edition of A Letter Home includes videos recorded in the booth for every track on the album. The deluxe CD and vinyl editions come with a bonus 32-page booklet.