by Sean Kelly
Neil Young has been known over the years to try his hand at many different styles of music. Whether itÂ’s the folk/country sounds of his wonderful 2005 release Prarie Wind or 1985's Old Ways, the interesting electro-rock record Trans, or the 1983 lawsuit spawning rockabilly album EverybodyÂ’s Rockin, Young has always seemed to be a musically well rounded, open minded performer and songwriter.
His newest release, Fork in the Road, out April 7th on Reprise Records, seems to be classic Young. Without a doubt, this is a straightforward rock album.Â Fork, according to reports, was inspired by YoungÂ’s Lincoln Continental, which he had fixed to run on alternative energy. In fact, thereÂ’s even a documentary being produced by film producer and long time Neil Young collaboratorÂ Larry Johnson about converting gas guzzlers into environment-friendly cars like his Lincoln.
Musically this is, as mentioned, a rock album, though there are definitely mainly blues elements here. A great example of the blues influence on this album is a song called Â“Get Behind the WheelÂ”. ThereÂ’s almost a Texas blues sound on this one. It definitely something Stevie Ray Vaughn could have jammed to.
Another blues highlight here is Â“Hit the RoadÂ”.Â Most of this album is electric guitar heavy, but one track stood out from all the rest. Â“Light a CandleÂ” is a dark, folk and acoustic blues influenced song is the icing on the cake as the pedal steel guitar adds a nice southern feel.
Politically, Young seems to be cautiously optimistic.Â In the title track, he proclaims, Â“About this year/We salute the troops/TheyÂ’re all still there/In a f**g war/ItÂ’s no good/WhoÂ’s idea was that?Â”. Sounds like a return to his controversial 2006 album Living With War, doesnÂ’t it? Not too much, actually. Neil YoungÂ’s got hope. The song continuesÂ Â“IÂ’ve got hope/But you canÂ’t eat hope/IÂ’m not done/Not giving upÂ”.Â
ItÂ’s obvious that, like many, Neil Young felt a sense of encouragement and relief after the Bush era was over, but he still tells it like it is. Â“ThereÂ’s a bailout coming/But itÂ’s not for you/ItÂ’s for all those creeps/Hiding what they doÂ”. You tell Â‘em, Neil.
Overall, this album is a great addition to any Neil Young fanÂ’s collection, and for some it may end up being a favorite. To the average music listener who may not be familiar with Neil Young, this probably isnÂ’t the best introduction to his work, but it is a very solid album that most rock fans will enjoy. And donÂ’t worry, if you think Neil Young is just another rich rock star who canÂ’t relate to the troubling economic times weÂ’re living in, think again.
Â“Got my flat screen/Got it repoÂ’d now/They picked it up/Left a hole in the wall/Last Saturday/Missed the Raiders gameÂ”.Â
At least heÂ’s still got his Lincoln.Â