Fork in the Road | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, March 1st, 2021  

Neil Young

Fork in the Road


Jun 25, 2009 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

These days Neil Young has taken to releasing albums whenever and however frequently he chooses. Goodness knows, he's earned the right. In a career that is creeping up on five decades, Young has firmly established himself as the ultimate artist and a cornerstone of rock and roll, perhaps second only to Bob Dylan in terms of artistic integrity, songwriting excellence, and continued musical and cultural relevance. But where Dylan has aged with an even keener editor's eye in terms of his songwriting and lyrical commentary, Young has seemed to relieve himself of self-censoring and let his songs flow freely as they come to him. This is both a blessing and a curse for the fan, as the volume of Neil Young material tends to be greater and the quality more hit-or-miss. Fork in the Road exemplifies this trend in a here-and-now themed collection addressing present national concerns of the economy and energy efficiency, along with no less than six songs about or heavily involving cars.

Overall, the musical trend is toward blues-inflected rock, with the exception of the gentle "Off the Road" and the acoustic, pensive "Light a Candle." While much of the album finds Young riffing on themes with light commentary that sometimes feels tossed off (most egregiously, the chant of "cough up the bucks" in the song of the same name), the best songs on the album are the ones where Young is in a more genuinely contemplative mood. Accented by weeping lap steel, "Light a Candle" is a beautiful call to take responsibility and look to the future with hope. In the Crazy Horse-esque "Just Singing A Song," Young concedes that "just singing a song won't change the world." It's a long way from "Ohio," but times have changed. So if good ol' Neil needs to sing a few songs about driving his car to make himself feel better, so be it. (

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