The mixture of brash, thumping rock anthems and sweet, folky numbers across Neil Young’s newest album Colorado proves that, at 73, he remains more than capable of producing an engaging and varied record.
Recorded with his long-time band Crazy Horse, this conceptual collection of songs offers ramblings of passionate rage against the world’s impending climate emergency, such as ’She Showed Me Love’ where for nearly fourteen minutes straight Young laments the state of the planet – “I saw white guys trying to kill Mother Nature”. Peppered throughout however are tracks of a more delicate, introspective nature; ‘Olden Days’ contemplates friends passed on and the loneliness of old age – “Where did all the people go? Why did they fade away from me?”. While Young does edge on the side of corniness more often than not – both musically and lyrically – his artistic dues have certainly been paid, and the effort of tackling topics of this weight and poignancy is undeniably commendable.
The penultimate number ‘Rainbow of Colour’s’ provides a rousing conclusion to the album with it’s swelling singalong chorus, welcoming those fleeing warn zones to the USA – “There’s a rainbow of colours in the old USA, no-one’s gonna white wash those colours away”. However, it’s on the more delicate moments, such as closing track ‘I Do’ and piano-led numbers like ‘Eternity’ and ‘Green Is Blue’ where Colorado is at its sincerest and most elegant. This provides some welcomed respite from the jarringly heavy, sentimental tracks like ‘Shut It Down’ and ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’ .
The emotional connection is at its most genuine, then, when Young and his band are stripped back and the distorted shredding is left behind. Despite this, while it’s certainly no Harvest, it doesn’t try to be and would be inappropriate to compare it as such. Simply put, this is old-school Young at his most unapologetic, and as Rolling Stone magazine aptly describes, Colorado should be enjoyed as “the kind of cranky downhome grunge we’ve come to expect and love”.
Image: Tone Deaf