‘Colorado’ is Neil Young’s 39th album. Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. He’s reached that point in his career where very few people have constructed as large a catalogue, while delivering a consistent level of quality.
On ‘Colorado’ Young has decided to record with Crazy Horse for the first time since 2012’s ‘Psychedelic Pill’ and they’ve brought Nils Lofgren back for the first time since 1971, resulting in an album that sounds familiar but fresh and visceral.
The album opener ‘Think Of Me’ is classic Neil Young. As soon as it’s harmonica starts you are transported to that special place reserved for the likes ‘Heart Of Gold’, ‘Down By The River’, ‘Hey Hey, My My’ and ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’. It seems to say “Hey. It’s me Neil. I know we’ve not really hung out lately, but pull up a chair and let me tell you how I am...”
‘She Showed Me Love’ feels like an ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’ outtake with its chugging riffs, searing solos and lyrics that still hope things will get better, but knowing deep down they probably won’t. Lyrics about “old white guys” ruining the planet but that there are “young folks fighting to save Mother Nature” offers a glimpse that people still haven’t given up and are still fighting.
And this is what that album is about. Things are shit, but we’re not beaten yet. ‘Olden Days’ is a tender ballad about friends reconnecting after years apart. “I’m living in the olden days; I’ve found my friends along the way. Some are here with me right now...” seems to sum it up.
‘Shut It Down’ is another proper rocker and is effectively it is a theme song for Greta Thunberg and her climate change activists. Album closer ‘I Do’ is one of the most tender and captivating songs Young has ever released in years. His vocals barely gets above a whisper, but they just draw you in and keep you there.
It closes the album with a vibe of hope and positivity and that is effectively why it must be weird being Neil Young. You’ve been famous for the majority of your life. You’ve written some absolute classic songs, and albums, and have the clout to do, pretty much, what you’ve wanted for the last 30 years. Hell, he’s even released his digital music format and an electric car.
There comes a time when you’ve said everything you’ve ever wanted to say, played every note and this is where Neil Young finds himself on ‘Colorado’. However this is where the album’s enjoyment comes from; the songwriting leged could easily be rehashing old songs and playing it safe, but instead he’s written an album full of catchy songs, searing riffs about hope for the future, rather than dwelling on the past.
The return of Lofgren is inspired and Crazy Horse sound better than they have since 'Greendale' in 2003. The guitars feel tighter and have more bite. Young sounds invigorated but comfortable. In all fairness ‘Colorado’ isn’t going to join the pantheon of classic Neil Young albums, but few of his recent releases will, 'Le Noise' being the last that came close, but ‘Colorado’ is still a very good album.
If this is your first Neil Young album welcome to the party. There is plenty to get excited about. If this is your 39th Neil Young album, welcome to the party, there is still plenty to get excited about. As Young sings: “I’ve found my friends along the way...”
Words: Nick Roseblade
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