Neil Young has always been eccentric, but A Letter Home is his kookiest idea yet. Recorded in Jack White's 1947 Voice-O-Graph recording booth (not much bigger than a phone booth), the album crackles and pops through 11 lo-fi covers - mostly from the 60s - and two spoken intros addressed to Young's deceased mom.
The songs are old, and the album sounds really old.
Young's versions of Gordon Lightfoot's songs sound rougher than the originals, while Dylan's Girl From The North Country is suitably blustery. Willie Nelson's Crazy is almost more beautiful here than ever - just naked melody - while On The Road Again is a funny little mess.
Ragtimey piano on Since I Met You Baby, by Ivory Joe Hunter, makes you wonder how Young got a piano into the booth. Best are a fragile cover of Bert Jansch's Needle Of Death and the Everly Brothers' I Wonder If I Care As Much, with White on backup vocals and guitar.
Top track: Needle Of Death