Neil Young has a mind and songwriting form that continues to sharpen in a youthful way with the passing of each decade. Young's latest release, Fork in the Road, is a brightly wise album of dark songs about recession and its cause, which through the old man's eyes, seems to be the car industry. Each track cruises along a richly-toned Les Paul, inspired by that dirty old fuel line.
Since being diagnosed with a life-threatening brain aneurysm in 2005, Young has released three widely acclaimed albums, and Fork in the Road is no less captivating. Young continues to pump out the jams in an old Fogerty-esque style – they sound good and make perfect sense. They're organic.
The album opener, "When Worlds Collide," is a loose blues track that keeps creeping through time effortlessly. The bruised guitar tones sound like fingernails clawing at a tarnished gold belt buckle in the melting desert sun. "Truth is fiction/Truth is lies/Strange things happen when worlds collide," Young sings in familiar folk melodies with perfect pronunciation, just to make sure one can hear every word he says.
In similar fashion, "Hit the Road" has a "Foxy Lady"-on-Xanax-vibe with a thick, down-comforter bass and scrappy drums, while the acoustic heart-scratcher "Light a Candle" displays Young's true folkie side, anchored by a breezy slide guitar and haunting keys. "Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle for where we're going/There's something ahead worth looking for," Young sings every line as if it's his last – constantly stretching for the high notes in a tearful sort of way.
"Fork in the Road" ends with the five-minute title track that sounds like a direct response to President Obama's efforts to re-energize the economy. "There's a bailout coming and it's not for you/It's for all those creeps hiding what they do," Young sings in an unusually deeply stern tone. "I'm a big rock star and my sales have tanked/But I've still got you. Thanks."
Thanks to Neil Young for keeping his political voice and rocking in the free world, despite these strange times.
Get more over at www.neilyoung.com.