as a long time neil young fan (30+ years and counting), his prodigious output in the new millennium - especially political rants like "living with war" - has been mostly a disappointment. thankfully, "fork in the road" reverses that trend. it's solid, old school, neil young coming out of the speakers. i hesitated to pick up this album when i learned it was another concept album - ten songs from a cross-country road trip in his specialized 1959 lincoln continental. an entire album devoted to a ride in young's "eco-lincoln" car? while none of the songs come close to his automotive masterpiece, "long may you run," the concept worked.
while "fork in the road" is far cry from a "political" rant, young definitely weighs in on the usual suspects, the oil crisis, the need to get green, and the multitude of capitalist crimes perpetrated on the masses. if you can get by the hackneyed political lyrics (“there’s a bailout coming but it’s not for you”), and the long commercial for electric cars, the music is great - and that's what it's all about. in keeping with the electric car motif, young keeps his guitar plugged in for most of the songs. there's only one acoustic song on the album, “light a candle.”
it's a short album, the 10 songs come in under 40 minutes. "johnny magic" is the real rocker of the bunch. and, conveniently, tells the story of the wichita, kansas, based inventor and company that transformed his lincoln from dinosaur to a 100 mile per gallon hybrid-fuel monster! the title cut, however, "fork in the road" is a random walk down the lyric street - where we find that aforementioned beauty, "there's a bailout coming...." still, the music behind those lyrics is powerful.
given the mostly negative reviews of this album, i was pleasantly surprised to find myself liking it as much as i did. i listened to it first on my computer in the office. it didn't make too much of an impact, either way. but when i listened to it on the ipod, during last night's return to running, i found that it was addictive. i rarely play an album straight thru twice - so most of that short 10 song set clicked for me! while he may have gone thru a creative bad patch these last few years, don't ever count young out because he can still rock when he wants to.