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Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, Dec 27th, 2016

Neil Young: Peace Trail

neil-youngNeil Young
Peace Trail
(Reprise)

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Neil Young certainly doesn’t rest. His 37th studio album, Peace Trail, was recorded in just four days. Described as a “primarily acoustic” album, Young is helped here by legendary drummer Jim Keltner and bass guitarist Paul Bushnell. The album begins with the reflective jangle and tom tribal title track, then moves on to a demo-sounding drum slap behind Young’s acoustics on “Can’t Stop Workin’” with its wailing distorted harmonica (something he overuses here, I feel). Later on is the tune “Texas Rangers,” a stop-and-go track (Keltner again plopping off various toms) featuring almost atonal vocals. Then there’s the mess that is “Terrorist Suicide Hang Gliders,” which could have been a simple, acoustic ditty, but Young insists on getting that harmonica in here again, ruining the tune with it. Neil also once again takes on politics on this release; “John Oaks” is the only tune here with a real guitar lead in it. “My Pledge” is an out and out talking-lyrics, pointed plea. Near the end of these ten songs is the tune “Glass Accident,” an electric guitar, softly strummed, soft snare ditty with non-distorted harmonica and is, for me, the best tune here. It has a simple story and statement with Young sounding as vocally young as he does throughout this album. Bushnell is so subtle he’s almost non-existent and Keltner isn’t as much playing drums as it sounds as if he just made up his parts as he hears the tunes (not something that anyone, save someone as talented as Keltner, could have pulled off). As always, Young is making some big statements here, some slightly trite statements, actually (“behind big money justice always fails”), but he still writes a great tune and knows how to keep exactly to the concept he is mining.

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Neil Young: Peace Trail