Old folkie that he is, Neil Young harbors a soft spot for songs as protest, and The Monsanto Years is full of them. Where he often railed against war, here the purported target is the agricultural company Monsanto, a firm that, among other things, specializes in genetically modified crops, but Young uses that as a pivot to rage against all manner of modern outrages. Apathy among the populace, avarice among corporations, and cultural homogenization provide the throughline on The Monsanto Years, and while the weathered hippie takes some time to lay down his electric guitar and breathe, this isn't a mournful album like Living with War, his W-era missive. This is a raging record and to that end, Young hired the Promise of the Real, a ragtag outfit led by Willie Nelson's guitarist son Lukas, to approximate Crazy Horse's lop-legged lumber. Usually it works: the group roars not with righteousness but with their own glee at making noise. Plus, the Promise of the Real is adept at the softer side, too, so they ably follow Young, laying down the electric and harmonizing in a fashion reminiscent of an unwashed CSN. Young is blessed with a younger, wilier version of his old compadres and that suits his tunes, which feel comfortable yet have a bite. Young uses his sturdy footing to lash out at what he perceives as destructive forces -- to our dinner tables and social fabric -- and if the individual message may wind up fading like yesterday's newspapers, the music will keep The Monsanto Years burning bright.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2