Though Are You Passionate?
is Neil Young's studio-recorded follow-up to 2000's Silver & Gold
, it might well have emerged on the heels of Harvest Moon
. While both Crazy Horse
and Booker T. & the MGs
swing by to add ballast to several of these 11 brand-new tracks, gentle weepers like "Don't Say You Love Me," "When I Hold You in My Arms," and the softly lilting title track recall Young's aforementioned 1992 work while suggesting that the once outspoken social critic and on-again, off-again CSN&Y
member is mellowing. Further proof of that can be found in the tender opening song, "You're My Girl"--a postcard from a father to a daughter on the cusp of adulthood and presumably inspired by Young's daughter Amber--as well as in the lazy, languid "Two Old Friends." Are You Passionate?
's one serious clunker, "Let's Roll," was inspired by the 9/11 cell-phone call Todd Beamer placed moments before he and other passengers on Flight 93 went down in a Pennsylvania field. You can't fault the guy for commemorating a heroic act and making a personal donation to the Beamer family, but all his talk of "going after Satan on the wings of a dove" and "facing down evil" sounds like a guy who's spent more time watching CNN than honing his lyrics. --Kim Hughes