Picks and Pans Review: Are You Passionate?
Neil Young (Reprise)
Neil Young is rock's cranky old coot, snoozing on the front porch with a shotgun on his lap. Approach at your peril. You don't know if he'll want to have a friendly chat or fire a 12-gauge warning shot over your head. There's a fine line between passionate and ornery (see Arc, his 1991 album of guitar feedback).
It's a relief, then, to catch Young in mellow mode, although he has plenty of fight left in "Let's Roll," a growly salute to the heroes of Flight 93 that swaggers forth on basic bar-band chords suitable for blasting across the barracks. Even the "tin soldiers" Young derided 32 years ago in "Ohio" may forgive.
There are a couple of soul numbers, but his best ones are torch songs powered by languorous fuzz guitars. It's a more ragged sound than the honey-coated Harvest Moon (1992), the most successful of Young's later works. But gorgeous riffs pop up, notably on "Mr. Disappointment," a want-you-back track on which Young duets with himself—falsetto meets murmur—like a man talking to the mirror and finding lots to discuss: "I'd like to shake your hand, disappointment/ Looks like you win again."
Bottom Line: Grizzled and gutsy
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