[CD Review] Neil Young, 'Fork In the Road' (Reprise)

So here’s the deal: Old Neil had his 1959 Lincoln Continental re-jiggered so it could run on some sort of bio-hydro-electric propulsion system, and then he wrote an album about it!

Go ahead and consider Fork In the Road a concept album along the lines of Trans, and expect it to be about as well-received. Nearly every one of the 10 tracks here concern cars, and the lyrics tends toward obvious metaphors and corny plays on words. “You know she takes a little care,” he wails on “Get Behind the Wheel.” “She’s always looking good/Roll over and put that top down/Check out what’s under the hood.” Hmmm. Some tracks are about appreciating a fine automobile, while others tend toward environmental and geopolitical tirades. “Cough Up the Bucks” falls in the latter category, and, while timely, it’s also about as close you’ll ever get to Neil rapping—which is way too close, indeed. Sonically, there are a few inspired flashes of Ragged Glory and Harvest Moon, but unfortunately, the majority of the album sounds like something you might hear an all-white blues band play before a nearly-empty house on a Tuesday night in Huntington Beach.


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