Review: Neil Young & Promise Of The Real – The Monsanto Years (Warner Music Canada)

NY POTRNo one in their right mind would accuse Neil Young of becoming complacent as he gets older. In fact, the opposite seems to hold true; the older Young gets, the hotter the fire that is lit under him. The Monsanto Years ­– Young’s third album in the last two years – is no exception. Partnering with Promise Of The Real, a group that counts Willie Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah in their ranks, Young has leveraged musical foils that support him in much the same manner that Crazy Horse does. Musically, The Monsanto Years is relatively strong, but it is the album’s lyrics that often prove to be the record’s weak links. Young’s steadfast position of siding with the nation’s farmers and ensuring people know what ingredients their food contains is beyond admirable, but his utter contempt for corporations and the harm they do to the general public ultimately leads to clumsy lyrical pairings that diminish the overall impact of the material. Protest records continue to have a place in today’s world; Young just needs to regroup and focus on churning out quality instead of quantity.