neil young takes up native rights
Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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In return to folk roots

Neil Young takes up native rights

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Arab Today, arab today Neil Young takes up native rights

Sir Paul McCartney (L)
New York - Arab Today

Among the crop of septuagenarian star rockers, Neil Young stands out for the earnestness of his beliefs and the prolificity of his output.

For his 40th solo studio album, "Peace Trail," Young returns to his folk roots, taking on a role as musical storyteller as he raises his voice for the environment and the rights of indigenous people.

"Peace Trail," which comes out Friday, is the second release this year by the 71-year-old Canadian guitar and song-writing legend.

Earlier this year he put out "Earth," a hard-charging live album on which Young turned up the volume and interspersed his eco-conscious songs with noises of bees, crickets and other creatures from the great outdoors.

"Peace Trail" is more mellow but starts off with a title track that could join the ranks of Young's classic anthems, with a smooth electric guitar melody gliding across a Western-inspired drum rhythm.

Like on his most famous song, "Rockin' in the Free World," Young despairs at the plight of the world -- but his tone this time is more wistful than prosecutorial.

"The world is full of changes / Sometimes all these changes make me sad / But I keep planting seeds 'til something new is growing," he sings.

Belying the lyrical drive, Young is musically understated on much of "Peace Trail," which he recorded with session musicians at legendary producer Rick Rubin's Los Angeles-area studio.

Young holds off on the warbling extremes of his high-ranging voice, at times even appearing to employ Auto-tune software, and avoids the long orchestral passages that have often characterized his work.

- Folk protest songs -

After the rocking opening track, Young mostly strips back the sound. With his acoustic guitar, he unabashedly takes the mantle of a folk protest singer.

On "Indian Givers," Young -- a longtime advocate for indigenous people -- rallies behind the Standing Rock Sioux fighting to block construction of a pipeline on the North Dakota plains out of concern for the safety of their water and sacred lands.

"Our brave sons and beautiful daughters / We're all here together fighting poison waters," Young sings.

Ever topical, Young also hits back at suspicions of immigrants in "Suicide Terrorist Hang Gliders," a folk song with jolts of electric guitar.

He ends the album with "My New Robot," a brief song that opens with signature Young harmonica before sudden computerized voices as he critiques the gadgetry that is the hallmark of consumer society.

Young performed much of "Peace Trail" in October when he was one of six legendary rock acts at the inaugural Desert Trip music festival in California.

Young -- with a teepee on the edge of the stage in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux  -- marked a stark contrast with other artists at the festival who chose to please the crowds with their sing-along hits.

The move was not out of character for Young, who rivals the late Prince with the speed at which he pursues albums and ideas.

In the past four years, Young has also published two books, reunited with his band Crazy Horse and launched his own high-end music player, Pono.

"I can't stop working, 'cause I like to work when nothing else is going on," he sings on "Peace Trail." 

"It's bad for the body / But it's good for the soul."

Source: AFP

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