Living With War
A string of harangues against the White House’s current occupants, Neil Young’s Living With War feels like one of the first blog albums: It was written and recorded in two weeks and quickly thrown up on the Web. (Young began streaming it on his website on April 28, four days before it was sold digitally; the CD arrives in stores May 9.) The album reflects Internet immediacy in other ways as well. The power-trio arrangements have a let-it-rip simplicity; the lyrics are like stream-of-consciousness postings. (In ”Let’s Impeach the President,” you can hear him rushing to finish long lines like ”highjacking our religion and using it to get elected” before a chorus starts.) The choir and trumpet solos sound underrehearsed and ragtag.
But being off-the-cuff suits Young, never more so than here. Whether he’s railing against Bush’s ”Mission Accomplished” (”a golden photo op”) in ”Shock and Awe” or wondering whether Colin Powell or Barack Obama is up for an Oval Office job in ”Looking for a Leader” (the album’s most Crazy Horse-style stomper), Young hasn’t sounded this fired up in years. The maudlin creakiness of last year’s Prairie Wind has been blown away. As he did with 2001’s ”Let’s Roll,” Young still strains to prove he’s a patriot, this time with a gratuitous choir version of ”America the Beautiful.” But if this is what it takes to energize Young again, the war may have at least one unexpected silver lining.