[Reprise / Wea, 2006]
Neil Young speaks to his listeners with the insight of an everyday poet. With over three decades of experience, the legendary singer-songwriter has developed an uncanny ability to connect to listeners’ feelings of despair, while still providing hope.
On this concept album, he crafts a series of thematic songs in protest of the Iraq War and the Bush Administration. Young cleverly depicts the war’s effects on the American people through a number of songs that speak to their current consciousness. “Roger and Out” is a personal reminiscence about a friend who died in war. “The Restless Consumer” is a critique of the Bush Administration’s decision to waste money on the Iraq War when people are dying from lack of pharmaceutical drug access at home. Straightforwardly named tunes, “Living with War” and “Families” rouse the heart with vivid images narrating how war abducts the lives of both Iraqis and Americans. Singing in a melancholic tone, there is distress in Young’s voice as he kicks the protest up a notch with “Lookin’ for a Leader.” However, his fervent conviction still shines through the song’s wishful lyrics: “Someone walks among us / And I hope he hears the call / And maybe it’s a woman / Or a black man after all.”
This album’s ability to re-inspire hope reflects Young’s effect as a musician and storyteller. Scores of artists attribute their inspirations to become singer-songwriters to him, and far greater numbers of listeners thrive off his passionate discourse to better comprehend tough times.