Album reviews: Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Colorado, and Anna Meredith – FIBS

In his 73rd year, Young proves he has lost none of his outrage and passion, while Meredith’s genre defiance is a source of constant surprise and intrigue

Elisa Bray
Wednesday 23 October 2019 17:10 BST
Neil Young is releasing his new album, ‘Colorado’
Neil Young is releasing his new album, ‘Colorado’ (DH Lovelife)

Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Colorado


Neil Young’s new studio album, his first with Crazy Horse in seven years, was inspired by the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where it was recorded, mostly live, over 11 days.

With the freewheeling jams of “Milky Way” and 13-minute epic “She Showed Me Love”, Colorado sounds like classic Crazy Horse. But there’s a mellow, tender current to match the album’s ruminations.

Colorado shows that Young, at 73, has lost none of his outrage and passion; this album’s main concern is directed at climate change. During the urgent garage rock of “Shut It Down”, the Canadian star rails against the destruction of the planet. “Help Me Lose My Mind” melds volatile vocals and ferocious guitar with a contrasting chorus of melodic fragility.

This is an album that also captures Young’s vulnerable side, just as his 1970 masterpiece After the Gold Rush did. Colorado’s most stirring folk-rock track, “Green Is Blue”, recalls that album’s title track, as Young’s falsetto wavers delicately over echoing piano chords, chiming vibraphone and backing “ooohs”. “There’s so much we didn’t do/ That we knew we had to do,” a chorus of voices sings softly. Lyrics such as “We watched the species die… We saw the polar bear/ she floated/ on a piece of ice/ from another time” are devastating. It’s deeply melancholy, and surely one of the most heartbreaking songs to be written yet about climate change.

“Rainbow of Colors” injects rousing optimism towards the end, rallying defiance in the face of Trump’s divisive America with the line, “No one’s going to whitewash those colours away.”

Saying so much, so beautifully, Colorado was worth the wait.

Anna MeredithFIBS


The music of London-born, Scotland-dwelling composer Anna Meredith has been heard at the Proms, in motorway service station flash-mob performances, on haute-couture catwalks, and been inspired by the sounds of MRI scanners. Meredith is classically trained, but these often purely instrumental tracks take a space-traversing journey from her roots. Among her experimental dealings, she has played bassoon through the distortion pedals of a guitar.

This second album continues the genre-bending direction of her 2016 Scottish Album of the Year Award-winning debut, Varmints. Many tracks here creatively blend synths, electric guitar and classical instruments. Opener “Sawbones” sets up the album’s aural challenge with its maximalist approach of layering varying-length patterns of frenetic tempo over each other simultaneously, creating the somewhat stressful effect of being chased in a computer game.

By contrast, “Moonmoons” beautifully depicts a celestial journey. High-pitch electronic arpeggios and melodic violin build to restless bursts of cosmic sounds against chromatic sliding strings, before floating back again. It wouldn’t be out of place on Max Richter’s score to the film Ad Astra.

Add vocals to “Limpet”, and it could even be a straight-forward rock song. But Meredith’s tracks tend to veer in unfettered directions. Take the sped-up “Paramour”, in which brass has a pace-changing face-off with a heavy-rock guitar. It’s Steve Reich on steroids.

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Meredith’s choral vocals appear elsewhere. On “Inhale Exhale”, they combine with electronica to euphoric effect, while the jubilant synth-pop riff of “Killjoy” swerves into unexpected angular math-rock guitars. It’s thrilling.

If the sweet, drifting “Ribbons” and wide-eyed finale “Unfurl” feel underwhelming, that’s probably relative to the album’s more daring soundworlds. FIBS highlights Meredith as a much-needed creative force. Her shape-shifting genre-defiance constantly surprises and intrigues, but it’s good to get back down to Earth afterwards.

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