Elton John: The Diving Board

eltonElton John
The Diving Board
(Mercury Records)

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What’s not to love about Elton John’s 30th studio album, The Diving Board? Producer extraordinaire T. Bone Burnett, influenced when: “I saw Elton at the Troubadour in 1970…a three-piece band…so we started from there,” lays out the perfect ground work for Elton and his hit-making lyricist partner Bernie Taupin to deliver an album far and away from the Disney-fied Elton we’ve known too well of late and even the MTV-era, “I’m Still Standing” performer.

There is a of lot of solo Elton vocal piano here on the clear, sweet opener, “Ocean’s Away,” across the instrumental, “Dream,” pieces. Though of the three, the last showcases some perfectly complicated Elton piano and soft touches from drummer Jay Bellerose and bassist Raphael Saadiq. (Could there ever be a wholly instrumental Elton offering in the works? Man, how great would that be?)

“Oscar Wilde Gets Out” is a wonderful tune, the first use of what I would come to feel through this collection as a return to more Madman Across The Water-like production with some great Saadiq bass and even some honky tonk piano at its end. “My Quicksand” is a beautiful ballad of mainly just piano and voice. “Voyeur” benefits from the small band backing, on what might be Elton’s strongest vocals here. “The New Fever Waltz” is a pure Elton and Bernie masterpiece of mournful simple horn lines, low toms, cello and Elton playing a perfect piano.

Elton John’s The Diving Board is a great album.

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