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CD: Neil Young + Promise of the Real - The Visitor | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Neil Young + Promise of the Real - The Visitor

CD: Neil Young + Promise of the Real - The Visitor

Neil Young plays his Trump card

Another call to the barricades

Not since the 1960s has there been so much global shit to protest about! The Sixties, of course, gave us the protest song – and how well the best of them have worn. “Masters of War” and “With God On Our Side” are timeless classics. “Give Peace a Chance” can still be heard from the barricades.

There’s no doubt Neil Young means well, believes passionately, but the agitprop – much as we all agree with the sentiments – does begin to pall. Much of the music doesn’t quite cut the mustard, though if it won’t stand the test of time perhaps that’s because it doesn’t need to – the goal here is to be timely, not timeless.

There are moments of tenderness and philosophising

Neil Young + Promise of the Real, who in 2015 brought us The Monsanto Years, a rant against the agribusiness, returns with a second studio album that’s a scream of pure rage against Trump’s America. There’s rock and blues, funk and folk; call-and-response and mash-up with Lukas and Micah Nelson on guitars, Corey McCormick on bass, Anthony Logerfo on drums, and Tato Melgar on percussion behind Young on guitar and vocals.

“Already Great”, the opening cut, sets the tone for the album. Young, who denied Trump use of “Rockin’ the Free World” during the 2016 campaign and shouted “Fuck you, Donald Trump” from the stage, is by turns angry, ironic and satirical. The mariachi sounds of “Carnival” with its fairground organs and laughter and lines about “a potpourri of nature’s mistakes” and “the greatest show on earth” is America 2017 as a freak show. The sound of echoing footsteps and jangling keys add an air of menace to “When Bad Got Good”, where Young repurposes an sadly familiar refrain, “Lock him up”.

There are moments of tenderness and philosophising, of reaching out: the country-inflected “Almost Always” finds him trying to “figure out what it means” when “I’m living with a game show host/Who has to brag and has to boast/About tearing down the things that I hold dear”. On “Forever”, the acoustic track which closes The Visitor, Young sings (sometimes tunelessly) that he wants to “make a difference”. Amen to that.

The Visitor has its musical moments but what impresses is the conviction – the passion for all that is good about America from a musician who hails from Canada.

Liz Thomson's website

What impresses is the conviction - the passion for all that is good about America from a musician who hails from Canada


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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