Even if you don't agree with Neil Young's politics, you can't help but be daunted by the intersection of his genius and ire on his second album in less than seven months. It is the very rare artist who is able to channel indignation and moral disgust in such a coherent and forceful way--without sacrificing any of the vivid imagery, passion, or the high level of musicality that we have come to expect from him over the past four decades. But that's not what elevates this album: it's his pure, naked, visceral reaction to the Bush administration's foreign policy, building on a canon of outrage that he began with 1970's "Ohio," penned in the wake of the Kent State student deaths. But here he goes one better, filling in the lines that he began to draw on 2003's Greendale
about a family caught in changing times. But Young's done with musing about lost ideals. On Living with War, he demands much more from his audience, and himself. This is nothing less than a call for fearless action in extraordinarily fearful times. --Jaan Uhelszki
Neil Young is no stranger to putting politics in music. He's spent his entire career offering up the occasional haranguing to sit side-by-side with beautiful songs and his entire last album, Greendale, was a statement on protesting and the environment.
Living With War, as the title suggests, is inspired by America's involvement in Iraq and the Bush administration in general, and is filled with the dual towers of anger and imagery that have powered him since his rage truly began three decades ago on "Ohio".
That said, his ire does weigh a little too heavily at times, infecting songs that could have done with a moment or two to breathe, instead of being hammered down your throat.
This is the Neil Young of Rust and of Mirrorball. You might not agree with his politics, but when he's angry, he's a formidable songwriter. Living With War is another fist in America's gut. --Chris Long
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