"Won't need no shadow man runnin' the government/Won't need no stinkin' war!" From the first lines of "After the Garden," the first track on Living With War, it's clear that we're dealing with a Neil Young we haven't heard from in some time--angry, loud and ferociously vital, old age and brain aneurysms be damned. He's been floundering for more than a decade since his artistic rebirth in the early '90s, relying on half-baked attempts at recapturing past glories (Silver and Gold, Prairie Wind) and failed genre experiments like 2002's Are You Passionate? But with War he's found his focus, tearing into the Bush administration with protest songs better than any released in years, gifting a soundtrack to a burgeoning anti-war movement that so desperately needs one. Young isn't going for poetry here--he's singing from the heart and aiming for the gut, and while the lyrics might look trite on paper, they sound absolutely triumphant when Young and an unrehearsed choir sing them over propulsive drums and the crunching chords of Old Black, Young's trusty Les Paul. "Let's Impeach the President" stands out immediately, and it's easy to see why, as Young spares no punches, snarling "Flip! Flop!" over a bridge of incriminating Bush sound bites and turning the president's own words against him. It's easily the best anthem on an album full of them ("Shock and Awe," "The Restless Consumer," "Flags of Freedom"--hell, they're all good), and it's the best reason to pump your fist to Neil since "Rockin' in the Free World". Mr. Young, it's good to have you back.
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