On The Visitor Neil Young immediately preemptive strike at the MAGA and shut-up-and-sing-crowds on the album’s first line, “I’m Canadian, by the way/And I love the USA.” Afterwards, the musician who has spent more than 50 years living in the United States speaks his mind on the present tumultuous political atmosphere.
A taste of this arrived last month with “Already Great,” which opens the album. The song points out how those in the upper reaches of power are trying to diminish this country’s status as a shining Beacon of Hope and the land of the free. Some of the lines come from current events, and it ends with the “Whose streets? Our streets!” chant that’s been used for decades during protests.
“Fly By Night Deal” tackles his fear for the environment while “Almost Always” uses a musical approach similar to “Harvest Moon”’s “Unknown Legend while the lyrics admit the difficulty in staying focused on making positive change in a world full of distractions.
Young makes sure to balance out his righteous anger with a sense of hope for the future. With its brass and string production “Children of Destiny” could almost be a call to arms outtake from his concept album, “Greendale,” while “Stand Tall” calls for resistors not to be discouraged.
Once again, the legendary singer songwriter works with Promise of the Real. The collaboration allows him to follow a musical path the runs from the grittiness of Crazy Horse with a homespun manner of the Stray Gators. Together, they tackle raw rock (“Diggin’ a Hole”), folk (“Change of Heart”) and a light Latin touch (“Carnival”).
Similar to Young’s “Living With War,” “The Visitor” harnesses his rage in songs that sound as if they can’t wait another minute to be recorded or they’ll lose their relevance. Because of that, the lyrics often come off as platitudes, even if they are necessary ones.
“Forever” concludes his musical screed with all the poetry and loose-limbed instrumental backing that sums up his feelings, his desires, hopes and dreams for the planet and its inhabitants causing whatever faults that can be found on any of the previous tracks to fall crumbling to the side.