This discography analysis is written by contributor JT of Perth, Australia. Follow him at @thesonofnoone on Twitter.
Living With War (2006) http://open.spotify.com/album/0A4FFAHFC2ejSnuQUpdo0x
1) 'After the Garden'
2) 'Living With War'
3) 'The Restless Consumer'
4) 'Shock & Awe'
6) 'Flags of Freedom'
7) 'Let's Impeach the President'
8) 'Lookin' For a Leader'
9) 'Roger & Out'
10) 'America the Beautiful'
ALBUM RATING: 4.0
Ok, so this is a different kind of review. I'm not going to go track-by track. I'm not interesting in doing so, not for this album anyway. To me, the songs themselves aren't important. Not because they're good (which, to be fair they aren't at all), but because they don't matter as this is about the album. Neil Young's always been a spur-of-the-moment kind of guy. Or so it's seemed (I've always maintained that although Neil's jumped from style to style, he's always done so with a plan in his mind... with obvious exceptions).
'Music as a protest' has been going on for a long time, and as far as Neil's concerned with Living With War, what's being said isn't as important as the perception that at the very least you're saying something. Honestly, "Let's impeach the President for lying" has nothing on "tin soldiers and Nixon's coming", but you all knew that anyway.
The songs themselves are not good. Of those which make any impact at all, only 'The Restless Consumer' makes me interested enough to consider it a success. The rest are forgettable and not worthy of being attached to the name of Neil Young.
Ultimately, what makes Living With War a failure is not the scope of the project, not at all. Neil's idea to write, record and release as soon as possible was a masterstroke in that coupled with the subject matter, it was bound to raise the interests of music fans (for its expediency) and the general public (for its subject matter). All of a sudden it seemed as though Neil were relevant again because he made an anti-war album. People didn't stop to think that the songs might be this horrible.
It's hard to write about this album, simply because it's so bad. This is Neil Young at his most strained, strained in voice, strained in inspiration. Strained in inspiration... how can I write that? How can I believe that? This is Neil Young for fuck's sake - the man earned his immortality from making the controversial accesible. He translated people's anger ('Ohio') and he's simplified the unique feelings of men better than many others. Here, he only convinces you that he should never have made this album to begin with and if this isn't the review you were after... well perhaps it's best to think like me and pretend like this album never happened.
NEXT: Back to the Future, Part II