The feeling permeates his work. It’s unquestionably his best collection since 2001’s Songs from the West Coast.
His last two albums, also produced by the exceptional T Bone Burnett, were great, but the vibe was somewhat downcast. The Diving Board, punctuated by the great, and I feel somewhat overlooked. song “Home,” was just a stunning piece of work.
Face it, Burnett is the producer artists go to when they want a fine-focused, nuanced album.
On the new ten-song effort, there’s really not a bad track. I am immediately picking “In The Name Of You,” which conjures up thoughts of Tumbleweed Connection, as my fave.
It’s a riveting tune with a passionate vocal by John. The production is topnotch. But what I think really makes this album jump (as they say) is the guitar driven sound.
Davey Johnstone’s guitar has never sounded better, and you can really see how his new positioning really serves the songs well.
“Claw Hammer” and the beautiful “Blue Wonderful” are instant John classics.
The first single from the album, its title track, I think caught everyone off guard. John says this album was recorded quickly, with his terrific road-band, and the spontaneity works terrifically well.
“I’ve Got 2 Wings” tells the story of Utah Smith, a little-known Louisiana preacher whose efforts to spread the Good Word were aided by an electric guitar and a pair of colossal wings.
In other tunes, Taupin’s lyrical images are more worldly but no less fervent, like the title track’s “Ice Cubes on the Back of Your Neck,” or “You’re an Open Chord I’m Gonna play All Day.” Man, Taupin is indeed a brilliant wordsmith.
Several songs like “A Good Heart” or “Wonderful” could fit on John’s albums from decades ago, boosted now by a freshness in his voice he didn’t always have back then.
I’ve been a John fan from Day One, and I loved this effort. It’s a lively and classy effort from a true master.
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Names in the News
Tony King, Tom & Lisa Cuddy, Glenn Friedman, David Salidor, Ryan ‘Gooch’ Nelson, Randy Alexander, Keith Girard, Debbie Caponetta, Jacqueline Boyd, Harrison Jordan, Wayne Avers, Peter Abraham, David Alexander, Rich Dart, John Billings, MA Cassata, Brad Balfour, Havasi, Cfs, Chip.
(video from “Blue Wonderful”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QmgP1hf_Ec)