Album Review: Neil Young – Fork in the Road

Many of us secretly enjoy infomercials on television late at night. But would you pay for a full-length album that is just one big infomercial?

Neil Young’s latest, Fork in the Road, is essentially just that. Concerned about the environment, the economy, and America’s dependence on oil from hostile regimes, Neil recently launched LincVolt, a company with the goal of creating a full-sized, zero-emissions vehicle. Fork in the Road is inspired by this effort.

While the venture is admirable, you are likely thinking that as a concept for an album, that sounds about as interesting as a ShamWow or an Obama commemorative plate. Believe it or not, Fork in the Road is much better than that. It’s a great, sloppy riff-fest starring Neil in the roles of patriot, optimist, car lover, and cranky old man–as himself, essentially.

Neil wonders, “Where did all the money go? / Where did all the cash flow?” and notes in the title track that “there’s a bailout coming, but it’s not for you.” At the same time, he issues a call to action to himself–“Just singing a song won’t change the world.”

And, of course, the sales pitch: “Awesome power of electricity, stored for you in her big battery.”

Throughout, Neil Young sounds like he’s having more fun than he’s had in years. He’s obviously excited to be joining the great American traditions of entrepreneurship and innovation while simultaneously engaging in his passion for classic cars. His enthusiasm, placed on wax for us on Fork in the Road, lights a candle in the darkness of the tough times we are living in. Despite its (often humorous) crankiness, it’s a joy.

Three and a Half Stars
“Light a Candle”

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“Fork in the Road.” I didn’t like this song at first, but it really grew on me after a few listens.

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