Elton John: The Diving Board

Posted September 25, 2013 by in Rock



3/ 5


Genre: ,
Label: ,
Genre: Soft rock, rock
Producer: T Bone Burnett
Label: Capitol, Mercury
Format: Digital download, compact disc
Time: 57:33
Release Date: 24 September 2013
Spin This: "Dream #3," "Mexican Vacation (Kids in the Candlelight," "


Piano-driven, basic instrumentation gives off pleasant intimate cabaret show


Some tracks slouch in organization; AC filler tends to dominate the tone of the album

Back to basics for the Rocket Man’s latest LP

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Back to basics for the Rocket Man’s latest LP

The UnionElton John’s love letter to and with rustic rock legend Leon Russell – actually works as complementary prelude to The Diving Board, his 31st record. Here he once again delves back into more familiar territory. It’s no surprise that John’s voice is still in good form – a bit more rugged, huskier and matured, but the arrangements of the album focuses heavily on his thick piano finger playing, which sounds like it’s been placed properly in front of the rhythm section. It is his piano execution that gives The Diving Board a concert-like majesty, which reverberates mightily on the intimate AC tracks like “Oceans Fly,” “My Quicksand” and “Home Again.” It might be too low-key and mellow for those expecting the Rocket Man to burst into Saturday night, but the rewards of ear pleasure actually exceed certain expectations. Lyricist Bernie Taupin remains the poet he is, turning attention on subjects of danger,  lots of reflection (“Home Again,” “Diving Board”) and churning out sweet one-liners (“A whisper in the darkness holds more truth than a shout,” John sings on “Voyeur”). There’s a radio readiness to some of the tracks, but the disc is intended to be enjoyed as a suite, with one song leading to the next. The set of piano-driven interludes, notated as “Dreams,” prove just that. Unfairly judging the disc as a ballad-heavy set is to be expected, but John occasionally jumps out of that box when he pumps a gutsy dose of blues and gospel into “Mexican Vacation (Kids in the Candlelight”) and “Take This Dirty Water.” Once the soulful background harmonies start to surround John’s sermonizing, the summit inside T Bone Burnett’s simple Southern-breaded production is finally actualized. There are very few instances where that happens on The Diving Board, which might be the album’s biggest gripe. For the most part, John seems alone and isolated on this one. Then there are a few instances when the lyrics and the music don’t totally align properly, evidenced properly on the chorus of “My Quicksand.” But for an album that features fine material constructed in a matter of days and a timeless John on piano (“Dream #3”), you start doing the unthinkable by making comparisons with some of his earlier overlooked albums. That’s a pretty good position to be in.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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