Hardcore Neil Young fans might want to take the title of this instrumental jazz-rock "tribute" to heart and run. But if they do, they will be missing one of the most innovative, creative, and daring reworkings of Young's, or anyone else's, catalog. The Toronto-based quartet that features guitarist Kevin Breit, best known for his more commercially oriented work with Norah Jones, deconstructs nine Neil Young hits, rebuilding them in ways that make the originals all but unrecognizable. The bandmembers grab bits of melodies, twist them into inventive formations, and seldom let Young's arrangements influence the new versions. Hence, those looking for simplistic, easy-to-swallow covers will likely be disappointed. One taste of the opening "Southern Man," where Breit's distorted guitar spars with organ that plays the melody from "Dixie," is enough to indicate to any listener that this is not your father's tribute album. Soon the song folds in on itself with only the slightest semblance of what Young laid down on After the Gold Rush. Similarly the rather bizarre disco rhythm of "Heart of Gold" nearly obscures the melody, which is disassembled into minor keys by Breit's ethereal guitar solo. It sounds like two different songs played simultaneously, which is probably the point. "Cinnamon Girl" is likewise altered, broken down into a skeletal, dreamy version that few will recognize without resorting to the track list. At seven minutes, "Ohio" is the album's longest tune and its centerpiece. Breit and company start with a relatively standard reading, which builds into a sonic firestorm that references Hendrix's "Machine Gun" as the guitar tilts into intense free fall. "Long May You Run" ambles as a lovely ballad in one of the band's earthier performances, but "Needle and the Damage Done" shifts into a thrilling psychedelic blues overdrive that blasts off into outer space. Recorded in three days during 2004 but first released in mid-2006, this may be too far afield for even the most flexible Young aficionados. But for those with more adventurous tastes, it is a challenging and respectful concept that begs the band to tackle other artists' work in a comparable non-traditional manner.
AllMusic Review by Hal Horowitz