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3.7 out of 5 stars
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3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 12 April 2009
It's really hard being a Neil Young fan. Like Prince, he is allowed to release too much material too frequently. If only he would release half as much material, he would stand a better chance of making a great album. 'Fork in the Road' is a 38 minute collection of poorly recorded out takes. Why oh why in this digital age do so many artists fail to record an album that sounds great in terms of clarity and detail? Bruce Springsteen can't manage it and Neil Young can't either. The whole album sounds like it was recorded in his kitchen. Flat, dull, lazy. The only redeeming track is 'Light a Candle' which sounds melancholic. The rest consists of poor lyrics, sloppy playing and appalling production. It's an offence to release poor material; it's a major crime to record it with no care at all. If you are a Neil fan, I wouldn't bother. My copy will be going into the CD rack never to come out again. Sad.
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on 30 May 2009
I'll be honest, I wasn't a fan after the first listen - but I urge you, give it time. I stuck at it and the album has really grown on me. It's by no means the next Harvest, but I challenge you not to compare it, as they are essentially completely different records. Neil Young prides himself on being so diverse, and this album fits perfectly into the evolution of his style throughout the years.

This is an out-and-out rock and roll CD, featuring plenty of distorted guitar. The only track that stays away from this is Light a Candle which sits as a perfect break from the heavier material. The theme is predominantly car-related, but other subjects creep in as in the brilliantly true Just Singing A Song (won't save the world). The sound is very raw, and by this I mean NOT polished by any sense of the imagination. I'd say this is the record's biggest downfall (and indeed why I gave it four instead of five stars), as it does sound like it was recorded in a couple of hours and nothing else done to it. The guitar is often too loud, the drums lack dynamics (and are FAR too quiet) and Young's vocals are by no means perfect (I hate to say it but he just can't sing as well as he used to).

So please, give it a chance, and if you don't like it, give it another chance. It will grow on you, I promise. And if it doesn't, well you can guarantee the next album will be completely different. Isn't that why we love him so much!?
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on 23 May 2009
The most obvious point of comparison for Neil Young's latest is probably the recent Living with War - Young in garage rock mode getting his teeth into some topical meat. To my ears though it's a comparison that flatters Fork in the Road. Where the songs on 'War' sounded effortless, as though Young were a conduit directly channeling the discontents of a nation, the tunes here seem less inspired, and it's a lot more evident it's been thrown together somewhat quickly.

I don't doubt Young's sincerity, and his desire to address his subjects with such immediacy is admirable, but melody and lyrics-wise the results here are mixed. The insistent rocker Fuel Line is one of the best on both counts, with Young singing the praises of hybrid technology while his backing singers demand we 'Keep filling that old fuel line' like a Greek Chorus observing human vested interest.

On the other hand, Cough Up The Bucks is either an embarrasingly simplistic analysis of the current global financial crisis, or an attempt to articulate the sense of baffled disenfranchisement most normal people feel in the face of Collateralized Debt Obligations, Credit Default Swaps and the like - 'Where did the money go' indeed? Either way, the songs repetitive riffing and minimalism are worryingly remiscent of Young's much maligned Re-ac-tor album.

The rest of the album is also hit-and-miss, but ends strongly. The haunting Light a Candle is a great ballad, and Fork in the Road, (which sounds a little Subterranean Homesick Blues to me) is at once scattershot, wry and cutting.

Overall, it's tough to come down too hard on Young for this one. It's part of project he obviously cares passionately about, and unlike the part-time activist musicians he lays down the gauntlet to on Just Singing a Song (won't change the world) Young actually walks it like he talks it - he's putting a lot of his own money into the Linc Volt, and you've gotta respect the guy for that.
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VINE VOICEon 11 April 2009
To me this album seems rushed - Neil Young has constantly re-invented himself over the years from being "just" a "folkie" back in the early days to his flirting with country in "Old Ways", 50s r'n'r "Everybody's rocking", vocoders "Trans" the Pearl Jam years "Mirrorball" and so many more. And we mustn't forget "Greendale" though I would like to do so !
This album sounds as though he knocked it off on a spare weekend as he's gotten into saving the world via the "green" car and sounds very much like "Living with war" in that respect. I know, before anyone tells me, that he's been trying to save the world with a green car for some time and that's a very laudable thing to do but it seems as though his enthusiasm bubbles over and he just has to tell the world what he's thinking at this particular time in his life.
The songs are quite good but, to me, there's nothing particularly earth shattering here no "Hurricane" or "Cortez the killer" or even "Harvest" or "Tonight's the night" - nothing that immediately send shivers up and down the spine and certainly none of the blistering guitar solos that he's capable of doing. As my title reveals I find it a bit rushed and nowhere near as polished as some of his earlier work. It's not a major disappointment but it IS a disappointment. by anyone else's standards this would be a very good album but this is Neil Young and he is, I think, capable of so much better
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VINE VOICEon 25 May 2011
Not too much to say except this is a little peach of an album. Simple, devoid of long solos, rocking, great riffs, clever lyrics and what sounds like a tight little band. The title track alone is worth the money, a chugging number with a great chorus that changes but stciks in your head for days. Highly recommended.
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on 1 May 2009
Welcome to my first (and last) review ever.

I bought Neil Young's `Fork In The Road' last week, Bob Dylan's `Together Through Life' on release day. I didn't listen to either immediately but took both along the day after Dylan's release day, on a long car journey.
Bob's cd first, I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed `Modern Times' and `Love And Theft' too. I also enjoy listening to `Blood On The Tracks' and lots of his `classic' material. I like to hear Bob in this relaxed groove, the musicianship is wonderful and he does seem to be enjoying himself.

Neil's cd took me by surprise initially then it touched me. Just like Bob, Neil settles into a groove. Okay, it isn't the Crazy Horse groove but he too seems relaxed and enjoying himself.

In fact they're both having fun for exactly the same reason. They are in a groove that goes all the way back to their roots. Bob and Neil don't have the same roots so the groove isn't the same, but the music is still there to feel and to hear.

From Bob we get beautifully performed music based in the blues and swing and even a little South of the Border feel too. The music he grew up listening to. The music he plays on the radio. The music he loves.
From Neil we get a beautiful groove rooted in rock. That's what he does, that's what he's always done, just rock. Even when he's `Harvesting' he's still rocking. He plays the music he grew up listening to, the music he loves. Listen to the title track, there's even traces of Velvet Underground `White Light White Heat' in there.

These two guys have been with us for many, many years, keeping us entertained, enthralled and rather bemused at times too. What does it matter if they're doing what they want to do, what they are happy with. They have pushed back the boundaries many times. They have opened doors for many other musicians. They have earned the right to play and record what they want.

Leave your egos at the door. Stop complaining. Don't criticise what you can't understand. Open your eyes and your ears and just sit back and enjoy. If you don't like the music is that down to Bob, or to Neil, or to you? It doesn't really matter. It's not good or bad it's just personal taste. For me, it is fine. If you feel so strongly, put down your pen, pick up a guitar...
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on 24 March 2011
This album is one of Young's more interesting records of the 2000's. Unlike the harmonically basic (but still good)'Living With War' and 'Greendale', his songwriting here explores some new territories for him, by using key changes and borrowed chords moreso than he has done in some time. Plus, this this album has a good time feel to it and is very enjoyable to listen to. Not as good his last album, the fantastic 'Chrome Dreams II', but recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 22 April 2009
Neil Youngs take on the state of the US automobile industry, starts of heavy handed with `When worlds collide' taking on the auto industry and mega conglomerates.
`Fuel line' rock n roll almost in the `shocking pinks' style, and `cough up the bucks' Neil's take on the car industry bail outs.
`Light a candle' is reflective Neil Young but would have benefited from a more acoustic arrangement
Most of the rest of the album straight ahead rock of the Greendale variety but without the extended guitar solos
If you buy the CD/DVD package you also get the whole album in hi rez stereo and 4 bonus videos. A comment on one of the videos Neil he sat in front of a camera on his laptop, played the song in one take, then told Reprise 'there's your first music video.' To both their horror and amusement. Funny in the fact that its fuzzy he plays air guitar and does not always appear in frame.
The best of the videos and making this package worth buying is the take of the Beatles `Day in the life' , this live take shreds the original making it sound like a Neil original, ending in a squall of feedback.
Not Neils best album but better than a lot of what is around at the moment. Maybe he will get round to releasing archives but I would rather he delay that project for more new albums.
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on 30 April 2009
I doubt this album will convert unbelievers to a life of Neil, but for the fan of his looser, noisier, less produced work Fork in the Road won't disappoint. You don't have to "get" the message in this album although he seems very sincere in his attempts to reduce his carbon footprint - the music works anyway in my opinion.

Sound-wise I would say this album is closer to Mirrorball or Broken Arrow than more recent stuff, although you could draw parallels with Living With War. The first track "When Worlds Collide" certainly sounds to me like a track that was missed off Mirrorball.

"Johnny Magic" - does he get away with it? Yes - he's Neil and only he could sing this without it sounding like some terrible second rate country cover (ok - a very heavy country cover).

"Cough up the Bucks" has a catchy hook - something there that you can't help moving to.

All in all - it's one for a night-time drive, a drunken evening - can't wait to hear these tracks live. This is a "studio" album but as always with his electric stuff, that doesn't mean it's much different from a live album - just no applause to get in the way.

"Just singing a song won't change the world" - but NY has done just that in a small way.
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on 26 April 2014
Strange to hear so many people suggesting that those who like NY's Prairie Wind type material probably won't enjoy this. Maybe the reviewers are wrong to suggest that their own views will be reflected by others? I like both albums & give each 5 stars. That's one of the wonderful things about Neil's music - the eclectic nature of his work. As for the comments about poor sound quality, my copy sounds excellent but I listen on good hifi equipment. I don't think NY is likely to release an album with poor sound quality given his rebellion against Mp3 & devotion to high definition sound quality & the introduction of his PonoMusic system for high quality downloads. If you listen to your music on high quality equipment, Fork In The Road will reveal a beautifully balanced sound stage with lots of space around each instrument - it's dynamic but not at all harsh. I haven't heard the DVD version - mine is the 'cd only' release.
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