Elton John - Peachtree Road
If your idea of Elton John begins and ends with the chubby, irritating 'Princess Diana' fawning fop he has become of late, then you would be excused if you're less than excited by the news of a new album from the Queen of tarts. However, if you're familiar with the other Elton, the one responsible for such solid, magnificent albums as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road or Honky Chateau then your interest might well be piqued but the big question is, how does this compare to the best of his work?
The answer is surprisingly well but it's not quite a masterpiece. There's nothing here to rival the quiet grandeur of 'Rocket Man' or the funk-lite of 'Honky Cat' but, there are moments. 'Porch Swing In Tupelo' is a gentle gospel tinged ballad that evokes old Americana effortlessly and will surprise anyone whose idea of Elton is Elton fop. It's a shame, thought, that it's followed immediately by 'Answer In The Sky' which manages to take that gospel tinge and turn it into something more mawkish and bloated than it can stand. And there are too many moments like this, to make the album the masterpiece it could have been. 'I Can't Keep This Love From You' for example, ends the album on something of a damp squib; a sentimental, torch song ballad that's overblown and dull.
Elsewhere, however, things like 'They Call Her The Cat' grooves with enough brass section swing to forgive much of the albums dross and 'Too Many Tears' has a great, unusual rhythm that makes it one of the albums outstanding moments. Opening with a swirling piano riff, before Elton opens the verse with an unusual tempo and minor chord change that gives the album it's only real hint of darkness. It does melt into sentimentality, but, unusually for the album as a whole, the song itself is strong enough to carry it. Again, 'It's Getting Dark In Here' is a bleak, soulful ballad that's guaranteed to be a show stopper live.
The real problem with this album is it's a little one-dimensional. There's simply not enough of substance to carry the more sentimental moments. There is some stand out moments, but for each moment of greatness, there's twenty more grey ones. It's not the worst thing he's ever produced by a long shot, and if your a more indulgent fan, you'll welcome this as a return to form, but it's nothing that's going to convert anyone to the church of Elton.