Saturday, 11 February 2012

Review: Pegi Young & The Survivors

Pegi Young & The Survivors - Bracing For Impact (Vapor Records)
I wonder if living with, and being married to Neil Young, who has an immense pedigree, stretching back over five decades, is a help or hindrance when it comes to taking your own musical journey. I’m a huge fan of Neil Young, ever since the Buffalo Springfield days. I’ve liked most of his output in whatever guise, with whatever band. I even have an autographed framed photo of the man in full guitar mode, entitled 'Hey Hey My My', on my landing. So, here’s his wife, on her third album, and how much help has he given her? Too much (impossible!), or not enough?

At first, I was a little disappointed to find what I consider a complete absence of any overt Neil influence. By that I mean this is definitely a Pegi Young album, and not his at all, and I honestly found it hard to stick with. She’s not blessed with the most powerful of voices, and it does take some getting used to. But that was just a first listen, and I’ve learnt to give some albums breathing space, and this one needed exactly that. Second time around, I heard it in a whole new way. Her voice isn’t the strongest, but she brings to the lyrics a beguiling charm, especially if you listen with just a tad more energy yourself. As for Neil, well he's in the backseat, and definitely not trying to drive. Even though he wrote one of the songs ("Doghouse", which for me is the worst number on the album), and contributed harmonica and guitar, and some background vocals, too. Sure, the immense guitar solo on "No Heartbeat Sounds" might have been Neil (it isn't), and this tells you that her handpicked band that make up The Survivors are a crack outfit. There's not a bum note to be found on the record.

The material is high quality too. Eight are self penned - "Med Line" and "Trouble In A Bottle" are the pick of a pretty strong, and varied, bunch - and a cover of Danny Whitten's classic, beautiful "I Don't Want To Talk About It" is superb in both choice and execution. Tarheel Slim's "Number 9 Train" is nicely done, if not actually close to being great. That leaves the aforementioned "Doghouse", which is almost a novelty tune. Get the album for the other ten tracks.
Kev A.

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