Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Barn [Reprise, 2021]
In case you haven't been keeping track, I have. It's a full dozen years since the once inexhaustible Young released an album of new songs worth hearing: Fork in the Road, his eco-car statement back when his passion was a revamped Continental that got 100 miles per gallon on "domestic green fuel" and Crazy Horse could thud along like it was old times. Here Crazy Horse is quieter and gentler as the green consciousness their boss embraced as of 2003's Greendale turns ever more militant and also, unfortunately but fittingly, much darker: "Canerican" is defiantly bipatriotic, "Change Ain't Never Gonna" takes direct aim at the yahoo yokels whose side he's always tried to see, and "Today's People" blames those people for killing the planet and "the children of the fires and floods" who'll go out with it. There's relief in the credible romantic passion of "Tumblin' Through the Years" and "Don't Forget Love." But the full-bore astonishment is the penultimate 8:28 "Welcome Back": "Gonna sing an old song to you right now/One that you heard before/Might be a window to your soul I can open slowly/I've been singing this way for so long," it goes, and that's just the vocal. What convinces you he means it is the guitar, so quiet and caring it feels like love. A