Neil Young – Peace Trail (2016) review
Neil Young – Peace Trail (Reprise Records, 2016)
As the second track says, “I can’t stop working …” and the man delivers yet again, finally shifting gears and getting back to his solid roots, making me feel that Indian Summer has just been extended for a couple more days with Neil Young laying out a barnstorming fury of what I can only describe as a laid back plugged-in acoustic record filled with intelligence and commentary on the social condition of this un-United States of America. As I listen I have flashes of the Jefferson Airplane clawing at the walls of the establishment, and if we ever needed anyone clawing at the walls, it’s now, though I am surprised that Neil Young is still the man dedicated to raising that fist.
His message is urgent, even if there is a disconnect with his audience, an audience who seem weary of the political message. Yes, they say, we live in a time of high anxiety stress and lies, a land busting at its seams with ecological crises, and leaders who don’t want so much to lead, as they want to reshape our minds … yet every person I talk to simply wants to view their favorite TV channel on their latest device, and send images of their last lunch, along with descriptive Tweets about the guy sitting next to them on the train.
Peace Trail is sharp and cutting, often disorienting, putting the message above all else, with the hopes that the younger generation will look with wiser eyes and not be taken for a ride, have the power to stand against the waves of hate and despair, and do the right thing for the right reason. No, it’s not a comfortable album, it’s certainly not a party album, it’s designed to remind you of what’s happening, that the ever present government eye is watching, and that if we don’t take care of each other no one will.
Peace Trail is a true folk record in the spirit of Woody Guthrie, but that was all along time ago, and those who download this gem and listen to it on their cheap earbuds are not gonna appreciate it, or even begin to understand its message, moving the songs to the least favored section, and eventually deleting them … and that’s the issue, if you don’t hear the message, heed the words, and respond to the call, then we’re doomed to be nothing but white bread, laying there in the sun to be picked at by passing birds.
Yep, “Purple Haze” has turned into a shopping mall soundtrack … but I remember when, so I’ll continue to feed my head, raise my fist, and kick at the walls with Neil Young at my side.
– Jenell Kesler
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