Elton John - Elton John The Diving Board

Tumbleweed reconnection

The voice is deeper and more
sonorous than it was 40 years
ago, but there’s an undeniable
air of familiarity to Elton John’s
first album since 2010’s Leon
Russell collaboration The
Union. T Bone Burnett is once
again in the producer’s chair
but, even more than the
Russell hook-up, this is the
sound of Elton touching base
with his past.

Led by his most
eloquent piano-playing in
years, and augmented by
a small, unobtrusive band,
The Diving Board is
possessed by the ghosts of
such early high watermarks
as Tumbleweed Connection
and Madman Across The
Water. Certainly, the former
is the touchstone for Bernie
Taupin’s lyrics, alluding,
indirectly or otherwise, to
a mythical west (Town
Called Jubilee, Ballad Of
Blind Tom).

Beyond his own fledgling
catalogue, the no-frills
melodies owe much to Elton’s
own early influences such as
David Ackles or Randy Newman,
discreet window-dressing for
the confessional tone of the
words. It may be too reserved
for excitable fans hoping for
I’m Still Standing sequels,
but the purity and simplicity
of this unadorned balladry
(Can’t Stay Alone Tonight,
The New Fever Waltz) may
bring many who fell by the
wayside back into the fold.
 

4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars

Mercury | cat no tbc (CD / LP)

Reviewed by Terry Staunton
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