Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Elton John - The Diving Board (2013)


  

Released September 2013

Recorded in Los Angeles

Elton John's first album for seven years, which was by far his longest absence from releasing material, this a more piano-led album than those that had been before. He had released the excellent collaboration with Leon Russell, "The Union", however.

TRACK LISTING

1. Oceans Away
2. Oscar Wilde Gets out
3. A Town Called Jubilee
4. The Ballad Of Blind Tom
5. Dream #1
6. My Quicksand
7. Can't Stay Alone Tonight
8. Voyeur
9. Home Again
10. Take This Dirty Water
11. Dream #2
12. The New Fever Waltz
13. Mexican Vacation (Kids in The Candlelight)
14. Dream #3
15. The Diving Board

"Oceans Away" is a lovely, melodic, piano-only opener, while "Oscar Wilde Gets Out" is a darkly rhythmic, moving tale of the unfortunate playwright. This song features strings and a full band backing too, effectively. That production once again harks back to the "Elton John" album. "A Town Called Jubilee" has some country-ish blues guitar and some Bernie Taupin Americana lyrics. As with most of the output from 2001 there are significant hints of their recording past in John and Taupin's work on this album - Americana, bluesy tracks, country-ish tracks, rollicking piano, nostalgic lyrics. They are all there, but as with most of Elton's recent backyard-echoing material, they don't recall the hits i.e. "Rocket Man", "Crocodile Rock" and the like. They bring to mind songs like "Sixty Years On", "First Night At Hienton", "Where To Now St. Peter", "Have Mercy On The Criminal" and "Susie (Dramas)". If you are familiar with Elton's seventies material, you will know what I mean.

"The Ballad Of Blind Tom" is a appealing blues-based number with an excellent piano backing and some thumping drums. "My Quicksand" is a stark, mournful lament of a piano ballad. Long and languid, it has a strong vocal and an evocative refrain about "waking up with an accent" after going to Paris once. Elton also lapses into some classical piano at one stage. "Can't Stay Alone Tonight" gets the mood back up again with a country blues-ish upbeat number. "Voyeur" is a rich, warm, bassy ballad. "Home Again" is bleaker, piano and haunting strings only. It has an instantly appealing chorus and is reminiscent of some of the material on "The Union".

"Take This Dirty Water" is one of those piano-led bluesy numbers like "Take Me To The Pilot" or "Honky Cat", enhanced by some gospel-style backing vocals. The melodic, sad "The New Fever Waltz" has a real feel of an old song but I can't put my finger on what it is. "Mexican Vacation" is a rousing barroom blues rocker and the title track is a jazzy, late night closer to an atmospheric, beguiling album.

One thing I would say about this album, though, is that, like many of its time, it is probably about two or three tracks too long. For me, it would have more effect if it were a few tracks shorter. Of course, I could always just not play a few of them, but I aways feel that somehow I should play albums through.

B-

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