Neil Young releases records at an alarming rate for a septuagenarian. It doesn’t matter, the guy gets a gold pass on whatever he releases. His recent health scare not slowing him down, yet showcasing the mortality we have seen in the recent past with Young’s friends and peers moving on at an alarming rate. Neil Young has walked a frantic line between rock god, country crooner, and punk godfather. Never mistaken for anyone else with falsetto in tow, he sounds better than he ever has on his new record The Visitor. Young’s backing band, Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real, provide ample space for Young to move in, and handle it with gusto and augmented energy. Probably in an attempt to keep up with Young, who’s energy has always been impressive. There are reflections on the recent election, the state of climate change, and thoughts on Young’s own mortality… or immortality. The great thing about the record is Young is no less pissed off, he just channels it differently.
“Already Great” is a direct f**k you to Donald Trump and a play on his moniker to “Make America Great Again”. It’s a love letter to America with a stomping romp and unmistakable yodel in tow. The acoustic darling “Almost Always” refers to, what I think is, Donald Trump as a “game show host who has to brag and boast”. “Change of Heart” begins with a whistle on the prairie with a little Neil Young spoken-word in a slow growl, reminiscent of Johnny Cash. “When Bad Not Good” is a loose, bluesy number with the chant “Lock Him Up… he lies” apparently a reference to Trump’s crowd-enticing chant of “Lock Her Up”, for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The last song on the record, 10-minute escapade “Forever”, is a plea for the environment, the less fortunate, and the future with the indelible line “I make my way down the highway / stopping now and then to rest and eat / trying not to damage that what’s in my way / looking for a way to be complete”. The song one long stream of consciousness filled with lines like the on above.
Unfortunately, songs like “Stand Tall” fall a little flat and leave little to the imagination. But since it’s Neil Young, he gets a pass. The Visitor is a good listen for both the Neil Young fan, and for anyone that wants a different perspective on the world at large. Young always has something important to say.
8.5 / 10
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