Neil Young Living with War

Was it only five years ago that Neil Young wrote the 9/11 rallying cry "Let’s Roll”? As rock’s most contradictory figure, he is certainly entitled to his opinions, and the often knee-jerk reaction with which he vents them never leaves little doubt about their sincerity. However, the sudden appearance of this bilious attack on the Bush administration, despite its admirable intent, smacks of being long overdue. If you’ve ever heard political talk radio, you’ve heard the voice Young uses here, only in his case he’s got an electric guitar to go with it. But with sources like The Daily Show already doing the essential duty of exposing the gross misconducts since the Iraqi invasion, Living with War simply sounds half-baked in comparison. Of course, that’s part of Young’s tradition, and sonically the album refreshingly echoes the tough "Times Square sessions” that eventually produced 1989’s Freedom. And as always, Young’s lyrics are most effective when they take in the big picture, and only the slightly more ambiguous "After the Garden” and "Flags of Freedom” seem poised to have any lasting impact compared to broadsides like "Let’s Impeach the President” and "Lookin’ for a Leader.” Where was this album during Cindy Sheehan’s protests? Or during the backlash against the Dixie Chicks? With George Bush’s approval rating at an all-time low and the clock ticking down on his reign, it’s easy to take potshots now. Perhaps Young should try politics himself if he’s that concerned, because Living with War won’t cause any Republicans to lose sleep. (Reprise)