Jeff Rosenstock & Laura Stevenson
Still Young (ep)
A slight folly move – with absolute sincerity: Still Young is an EP of Neil Young covers that was released late last year (on Neil Young’s 74th birthday in fact).
Jeff Rosenstock and Laura Stevenson are New York-based singer/songwriters, each with a solo career. They’re friends, they’ve collaborated, hung out and they share a love of Neil Young’s music.
So for this four track EP they picked two of his very well known songs and two lesser known ones (though one is surely a fan favourite).
The opener is a safe choice – a version of Harvest Moon that traces around the original arrangement, a little bit of late-night saxophone taking the place of the harmonica and Jeff and Laura’s voices winding around each other. It’s lovely. Simple. And it works. We’re in!
Next up is After The Gold Rush which is rather abrasive with the duet phrasing – the two singers performing the song together a la Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan’s unintentionally hilarious duets from the late 1960s. It’s a bit like The Flaming Lips version of the song, if anything. It gets a pass of course – because it’s a stellar fucking song. And it’s not at all a shit version – but it doesn’t quite accentuate the strengths of the original, nor do anything exciting.
But Ambulance Blues is the revelation here I think. The fan-favourite I alluded to. It’s instantly recognisable with the guitar line, but here there’s no twanging string and a rubbery bass line and drums guide the tune. Their duet singing is much better here – in fact it reminds me a lot of The Bads; so much so that, when they hear it, The Bads will be wishing they’d come up with this idea I reckon (they would have nailed it!)
The most obscure song here is Through My Sails, an album track from Zuma (hardly an obscure NY record). There’s a cameo from The Holdsteady’s Craig Finn. It’s also the shortest song on this EP. And rounds out a charming birthday gift to one of the most idiosyncratic and important musicians of the last 50 years.
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