A NEW album by Neil Young is cause for more than celebration, It is nothing short of the opening of a new chapter in rock. The release of a record by Young & Crazy Horse, then, ought to be doubly exciting. And, in the case of Americana - the first in nine long years - it most certainly is. It’s hard to imagine a record so weighed down with the baggage of hope, promise and expectation, but this collection of re-imagined classic American folk songs easily clears the bar. One of the albums of the year, this s a must for all fans of the Canadian troubadour and his thrilling brand of country-rock. The songs are old, but twee it aint. Dustbowl murder ballads and attitude-laden versions of some perhaps over-familiar tunes - like Clemantine and This Land is Your Land rub up against 19th century songs like opener Susannah and Tom Dula, and all sound fresh and urgent. Even the British National Anthem (which once, of course, used to be America’s too) is there - but is here transformed into a rebel marching tune. The timing of the album is deliberate - old songs finding resonance in America’s new depression - a soundtrack to an uneasy nation once again in a state of flux.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Americana, is out on Reprise