Neil Young, ‘Fork in the Road’ (Reprise)

A cardinal rule of commerce: Never compete against yourself. A cardinal rule of Neil Young: Screw commerce. His fourth release in roughly two years, Fork scans on first listen as a curmudgeon’s take on torn-from-the-headlines issues. Sounds that way on tenth listen, too, with manically twangy tracks like “Fuel Line” and “Cough Up the Bucks” connecting corporate environmentalism with economic collapse. Neil was a cranky young man also, and as he once put it, his catalog is all one song anyway. No surprise, then, that the new rushed-and-blasted “Johnny Magic” shares DNA with post-hippie strumfest “Sugar Mountain”: It’s an ode to innocence lost by an epic talent for whom wide-eyed naiveté was never really an option.

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