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Neil Young - Colorado (Album Review)

Thursday, 31 October 2019 Written by Jacob Brookman

For Neil Young’s 39th studio album, the folk-rock legend has teamed up with frequent collaborators Crazy Horse to deliver a record of churning rock dirge, accompanied by Young’s signature blend of political postulating and semi-spiritual songcraft.

And as is sometimes the case with this most mercurial of songwriters, there is a fair share of dreck among the jewels. The LGBT-friendly Rainbow of Colors is full-on cringe despite its honourable intentions, while Shut it Down opens with eviscerating intensity before landing in a muddy heap. The short guitar solo, however, is very, very good.

If you are a long-time appreciator of the Young and Crazy Horse sound then there are some real zingers on 'Colorado'. She Showed Me Love is a wonderfully sprawling environmental epic, full of clanging guitars and swelling vocal harmonies. 

It actually recalls some of the jamming on ‘4 Way Street’—a live album Young recorded with Crosby, Stills and Nash, and its lyrics carry terrific baby boomer power: “You might say I'm an old white guy [...] I saw old white guys trying to kill mother nature.” Young’s social commentary often has it both ways, and often succeeds.

Help Me Lose My Mind is also raucously compelling, channeling some of the 1990s grunge of Screaming Tees and—at a push—Sonic Youth. Actually, Crazy Horse’s affinity for that sound predates any Generation X-ers but it’s interesting to note the similarity in genre and divergence in political songwriting. This preference for radicalism could even account for some of Young's staying power.

Ultimately, on ‘Colorado’, Young is probably most at home within those grungy songs, where the anarchy of the band’s noise makes his thin, fluctuating voice yet more incongruous, quixotic and demanding. At 73, he remains a songwriter of great interest and intrigue.

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