(Warner Music Canada)
By Keith Sharp
Think of a current Neil Young record as an aural CNN telecast. He sings about work ethic, (“Can’t Stop Workin”), native indigenous conflicts, (“Indian Givers” “Show Me’), the Islamic immigrantion threat (“Terrible Suicide Hang Gliders”), environmental concerns (John Oaks) and even future technologic challenges (“My New Robot”). All executed via a clean, simplistic lyrical message, and direct acoustic arrangements that are set off by Young’s plaintive, vocal trademark. At a time when social media rules and Donald Tump’s twitter account provides daily news headlines, Young’s communication approach is very much old school. Like the minstrels of yore, Young turns hot button topics into lyrical concepts, whether he’s ranting about pipe lines, the environment, taking pot shots at the Athabaska Tar Sands or defending aboriginal rights. Agree with him or disagree with him, Nei Young has something to say and the way he says it gets right in your face. Recorded at Rick Rubin’s Shangri La Springs studio, performing with legendary drummer Jim Keltner and bassist Paul Bushnell, Young’s 10 songs are all incisive, compact statements – and it’s not all doom and gloom. He expresses a hope for a positive future on the title track and delivers a personal message in “My Pledge”. At a time when people’s attention spans are about 30 seconds, Nei Young’s albums demand your attention. He has something to say and he uses a time-honored method of delivering that message.
Download: “Peace Trail”, “John Oaks” “My Pledge”.