Album review: Neil Young + Promise Of The Real

Neil Young + Promise Of The Real - The Visitor (Reprise Records)

Neil Young.

Neil Young.

LIKE 2006's Living With War, this is Shakey's immediate response to current events. Whereas the latter album was about the Bush presidency and the 'War On Terror', The Visitor centres on Trump's first year in office.

Musically this is rough, raw, and ready. There's no spit and polish, everything is deliberately loose, with that familiar mix of sprawling hard rock and folk/country, although 'Carnival' brings an Cuban feel to proceedings, unusual in the Young canon.

Opener 'Already Great' sets out the stall: "I'm Canadian by the way/and I love the USA" as Young laments the route America has taken these past 18 months. While the chorus is meant to be reassuring and defiant, one can only imagine it's description of America as "already great/You're the promised land/You're the helping hand", will be received with arched eyebrows by the Black Lives Matter movement, and with bitter laughter by Syrians and Palestinians.

As noted, The Visitor is immediate comment on immediate events, but this means the album is becoming dated even as we speak. So while it is no On The Beach, or even, Le Noise, it has its moments. 'Stand Tall' and 'Children Of Destiny' champion environmentalism, feminism, and human rights, in a manner which does not feel twee, but actually feels up-lifting. Best though are the reflective, introspective acoustic numbers, 'Almost Always' and 'Forever', which provide musical and lyrical solace in these (and any ) troubled times.

Young, once memorably dubbed an "ornery old varmint" by Vox magazine is still a hippie at heart. Then again, when you are "living with a game show host/who likes to brag and likes to boast/about tearing down the things I hold dear", you do have to takes sides, even on an uneven album like The Visitor.


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