Few compositions in the international pop songbook evoke as emotional a response in western listeners as Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” does, and Midnight Shine recently took it upon themselves to put their own flavor on the track in an all-new single and music video. Translating a chunk of the lyrics into Cree was only the start of the transformation that “Heart of Gold” underwent at the hands of this band; here, they reshape the tempo to be a little more upbeat, add some fresh edges to the percussion and give the guitars more of a crunch to amplify the natural grit in their tone.
For as lofty a framework as Midnight Shine employ in this song, there’s a lot of unutilized potential that I was disappointed to find. The vocals stand virtually no chance of competing with the swarthy moves of the guitars as we move from verse to verse, and that bothered me a lot as I re-examined the track and tried to dig through the layers of strings in search of the glistening harmony buried beneath them. I’ll admit that the guitar parts are golden, but there’s a lot of intricacies to the vocal here that I wish I could have experienced more fully.
The music video for “Heart of Gold” redeems some of the technical flaws in the single (i.e. the mishandled crooning), and stands out to me as one of the better produced submissions that we’ve seen out of Midnight Shine. So many of my journalistic peers have been raving over this video, and it didn’t take me more than a virgin viewing to understand why. Even beyond its proud representation of Cree culture and smooth integration of the song’s narrative with what we’re seeing, it’s shot like a big budget piece and lives up to the high standards of the millennial generation (which is no easy feat for any artist right now).
There are a few things that I would change here and there in this new release from Midnight Shine, but by and large the energy that they bring to the music is commendable and subsequently yields a video that is quite charming to say the least. 2019 is proving to be a far more diverse year for pop and rock music than 2018 was, and “Heart of Gold” is pretty representative of that. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but for my money, you could do a lot worse this season.