Everyone has a different opinion about music – whether it be critics, fans or the people who put the effort into making it – but we can all agree that it’s one medium that knows literally no barriers. Language, race, religion; music has an essence that relates to us all, and to some extent, that’s what Midnight Shine’s single “Heart of Gold” is trying to capture in less than four minutes of running time. Sung in both English and Cree, this Neil Young cover isn’t the most exciting single that I’ve listened to in 2019, but what it says about the power of music makes it as important a release as any.
Midnight Shine are somewhat careful about perpetuating a stock cover in this rendition of the song, and while they’re not making any radical changes to the framing of the rhythm, there’s a couple of minor adjustments that are made in the arrangement of the instruments to set it apart from Neil Young’s 70s hit. The guitars get the bulk of the limelight here, and next to the Cree verses, propel the harmony that we’re used to hearing into a more dominant realm of pop prowess. It’s polished a bit excessively, but the bones are strong enough to withstand the zealous production hand.
The song is very textured, but the music video that was created for it is even more engaging. The patchwork of melodies that Neil Young stitched together when he wrote every song on Harvest was, and continues to be, revered as some of the most gripping songwriting ever to grace North American airwaves, and even though Midnight Shine don’t push out the same muscle in this track that Young once did, they compensate for the lack of depth in the melodies by throwing every acrylic nuance into the instrumentation that they can. Is it too much for some palates? Maybe – but for my taste, it’s a very respectful interpretation of the song.
I hadn’t heard very much of the music that Midnight Shine had made before checking out their video for “Heart of Gold,” but I think that I’ll be making a point of following what they turn out in the studio from now on. Theirs is a brand of rock that I don’t come in contact all that often, and while I’m not nominating them as the freshest band making new tunes in and around the Great White North these days, they’ve got a moxie in their musicality that I’m curious to hear more of in something other than a cover song.