Title - 'The Monsanto Years'
Artist - Neil Young + Promise of the Real
Amazingly, The Monsanto Years is the thirty-sixth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young, released on June 29th via Reprise Records. A guitar emblazoned concept album, criticizing agribusiness Monsanto, the album is a collaboration with Willie Nelson's sons Lukas and Micah, alongside Lukas' bandmates in Promise of the Real.
Produced by both Young and John Hanlon, and accompanied by a film documenting the recording process, The Monsanto Years showcases Young's voice as he gets older quite like nothing ever has before. Strained, at times, fluttering, weak, wavy at others, we know it's meant to sound like this because it made the finished recording ... right?!
Anyway, that aside, the album's overall sound is not too dissimilar from what Young puts out alongside Crazy Horse, but here it's both Lukas and Micah that supply all the big riffs, crashing major chords and harmonies. Having been characterized that way for most of Young’s more attentive recordings for the past five decades, somehow here they sound fresher, more vibrant, crisper.
'A New Day For Love' kicks things of, and Young is instantly in the informative lyric groove, and that's backed by the much more sedate, guitar strumming balladry of 'Wolf Moon.' The seer continues onwards with the more upbeat, poppier, highly repetitive 'People Want To Hear About Love,' and backs that with the distorted electric rock jam sounds of the near-eight minute 'Big Box.' The ecologically/environmentally-focused album continues ever onwards with 'A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop,' a track that if you hate whistling you're gonna detest the damn thing!
Currently out touring, as we speak, Neil Young + Promise of the Real are coming to a city near you under the banner of the Rebel Content Tour. Don't miss them, as I'm told they provide an incredible two hour, non-stop set for their beloved fans. A current tour favorite is the highly enjoyable rocker 'Workin' Man,' which then gives way to the mid-tempo, and sometimes strained 'Rules Of Change,' which in turn allows the album to come to a close with both the title track, the vocally laden 'Monsanto Years,' and then the cherry on the storytelling cake, 'If I Don't Know.'
FYI - The album's cover art, featuring a painting by Micah Nelson, parodies artist Grant Wood's 1930 painting, American Gothic, and features Young and his partner Daryl Hannah taking the place of its central figures.
Music Video - 'A Rock Star Bucks A Coffeeshop'