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Neil Young - Are You Passionate?
Neil Young's album Are You Passionate? falls right smack in the middle of his brooding Harvest Moon and the eccentric Greendale. The album is more pleading than demanding and tender than cajoling and the results are intriguing, if a bit uneven.
The opening track "You're My Girl" borrows the spirit and a little bit of everything else from The Temptations hit "My Girl". It's an interesting choice to see a singer like Young, who usually plays heavy music, tread with a lighter step. He even attempts some high Smokey Robinson falsettos. "Differently" is another song that would seem more appropriate for a juke box in a soda pop joint than a Neil Young album, but nonetheless, it's here. It has a straightforward pop sound that is a bit at odds with the singer's typical melancholy lyrics. "That my friends would turn to foes / And my love come to blows" is quite a statement for the sound of the song.
Sure, he may have dusted off some old records, but you can't keep the man who led Crazy Horse hidden for too long. After, a round of sweet songs, the hard-core rocker lying at the heart of Neil Young bursts back onto the scene with some good old-fashioned jams. "Goin' Home" is pure power rock! Once again at the helm of Crazy Horse, Young and his hard-playing, weathered band create something akin to a thunderstorm on the open prairie. When he describes a rogue wind as "slicing through culture / piling on the weeks" you can almost feel heaviness in the air - that calm before the storm. And then it hits - a loud, wild jam. The track runs 8:49, but the genius of it is that not a single second feels unnecessary or overly indulgent.
Neil Young has always been a poet of the times and Are You Passionate? is no exception. It includes the singer's 9/11 anthem "Let's Roll" a tribute to the passengers who fought back on Flight 93. With a ring of cell phone, you're instantly on board the doomed flight. Young sings from the perspective of the passengers and he doesn't pull any punches - "You've got to turn on evil / When it's coming after you". The song doesn't quite hit with the gut-wrenching power of his Crosby Stills Nash amp; Young hit "Ohio", which chronicled the Kent State shootings, but it's still full of fighting spirit.
"When I Hold You In My Arms" finds the famed singer/songwriter sliding into his more tender mode. "The older generation they've got something to say / But they better say it fast, or get outta the way" acts as warning to grab onto something that's real and comforting in our fast-paced world. When he wants to slow things down and whisper in your ear, Young is as good at love songs as anyone.
Neil Young's Are You Passionate? may not have been what anyone was expecting, especially his hard core fans, but if given a chance, there's plenty here to love.