Review of The Diving Board Album by Elton John

He's 66 years old with a knighthood, worldwide fame and a reputation that 'X Factor' contestants couldn't even imagine, but Sir Elton John's 30th album offering 'The Diving Board' may not have been released to the kind of anticipation that his much earlier albums created.  This seems to have been the case in recent years as his 2006 album 'The Captain and The Kid' was John's least successful album since his 1969 debut.  But why would someone with six Grammy's and a career spanning nearly 50 years be put off by a few bumps in the road?  Elton John has certainly gone through worse than a low selling album throughout his well-publicised life and career.

Elton John The Diving Board Album

Together, with long standing writing partner Bernie Taupin, the man responsible for classics such as 'Your Song', 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me' and both versions of 'Candle in the Wind'  to name a few, Elton John is back with a superb album.  With his confidence and belief in his music regained after admitting he didn't want to make another record after 'The Captain and The Kid''s lack of success, this album is full of the beauty we'd expect from one of the world's most influential musicians.

This confidence is back bigger than ever as, unbelievably, this album features his first solo album track ever, 'My Quicksand'. This is the stand out track of this fabulous album.  This poignant number not only highlights the remarkable talent of John but also tells a story of failure which, in one way or another, every listener will be able to relate to.  "Poignant" seems to be the theme of the album; in opening track 'Oceans Away', the line "of a generation gathering for maybe the last time" gives a heartbreakingly true observation in this musical tribute to WWII veterans.  Single 'Home Again' seems to have John reflecting on being home and his longing to be home, maybe lyrics he would have never written had he not become a father in between this album and his last record.  The deep and touching nature of this album can also be heard in title track 'The Diving Board', a song about the famous young.  Lines such as "you'd free fall into the ether" highlight the dangers of fame, and I can't think of many people more qualified to give advice on this matter then Sir Elton himself.  The vulnerable and emotional 'Voyeur and The New Fever Waltz' take on the subject of love with soulful rhythm and the beautifully written lyrics that have made Elton John a musical legend.  Storytelling lyrics have never been a stranger to Sir Elton John; much like 'Candle in the Wind', originally written for Marilyn Monroe and then, of course, Diana, Princess of Wales, 'Oscar Wilde Gets Out' tells the story of the man himself from his life in London, Paris and New York to his imprisonment.  Mixed with enchanted piano rifts it guarantees that this will be the song you will be left singing after listening to the album.  'A Town Called Jubilee' has that rare quality that allows you to lose yourself as you follow the story which melts perfectly into the South American sound of this brilliant track.

'Mexican Vacation (Kids in Candlelight)' and 'Take This Dirty Water' 'jazz up' the record.  These easy listening tracks perfectly showcase Elton as the incredibly talented pianist that brought him his fame, and adding a moving gospel edge thanks to the backing choir that will wholly engage any listener.   Ensuring these tracks aren't the only obviously upbeat ones, 'The Ballad of Blind Tom' and blues number 'Can't stay Alone Tonight' illustrate his love of country music with engrossing melodies.  Piano is very much at the forefront of this album not only in the mentioned tracks but there are three glorious interludes contributing to the brilliance of this record.

For all that surrounds Sir Elton John; his personal life, his philanthropy and even his reported diva-like behaviour; we mustn't forget what made him who he is today and that is his incredible musical prowess, unquestionably pitch perfect and recognisable  voice and his ability to produce outstanding songs.  If we needed reminding of that, then this magnificent album will, without a doubt, jog our memories.  

Alice Barker

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