Neil Diamond has retaken his career.


11/18/05
Reviewed by – Matt Rowe

——————————————————————————–

——————————————————————————–

Neil Diamond
12 Songs

Neil Diamond has retaken his career.

That statement is easily qualified by the release of his latest album, 12 Songs. Taking a page from the re-introduction of a career, simple album titling, and a stripped down application of “back to basics” as evidenced by Leonard Cohen’s 10 New Songs, Neil Diamond has teamed up with the one man, the one producer, who has the ability to bring out the burnished quality of near perfection from his clients, Rick Rubin. It could even be stated that Rubin is the un-credited “&” addition to this album of songs that has all of Neil Diamond’s many fans enjoying what they always knew existed beneath the surface of all those sequins.

Diamond’s progression had slid him off the track of his early works that include the magnificent Moods, his equally miraculous Stones, and a collection of earlier works that have generated the bounty of “Song Sung Blue,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Brooklyn Roads,” “I AM..I Said,” “Sweet Caroline,” and, to a lesser extent, a lot of lesse known Diamond classics like “Captain Sunshine,” “Let The Little Boy Sing,” “The Last Picasso,” and “And The Singer Sings His Songs.”

Neil began a new era when he spotlighted his Beautiful Noise, produced by The Band mainstay, Robbie Robertson, with a Vegas-styled work. Although Beautiful Noise was brilliant work, it was definitive in its diversionary movement. Subsequent releases yielded a Barbra Streisand duet, and sporadic moments of classic work evidenced much more frequently in earlier albums.

With 12 Songs, Diamond, with the help of Rubin, returned to the element that endeared him to fans, that of his ability to song-craft. The album begins with “Oh Mary,” which brings to mind his earlier “Lady Oh” from the earlier mentioned Beautiful Noise but without the heaviness of accompaniment. “Hell Yeah” is a beautiful piece that looks at life and its offerings, philosophically exploring the meanings and the quality of our lives, encouraging, in its wise way, to put more into what you have and walk out the door of mortality with a “hell yeah” on your lips. I like that. “Captain of a Shipwreck” could have come from Moods, easily. Of course, some of the tunes here could be parts of later love-song oriented releases like his “Save Me a Saturday Night,” a song that could have easily fit into an album like September Morn or I’m Glad That You?re Here with Me Tonight. He also makes an affirmation of faith with “Man of God.”

The album is held back, instrumentally, in order to highlight Neil Diamond?s natural ability to build a song based on insightful words and simple melodies. This is not a bad thing as it puts Neil back into the crux of his craft. It is the melodies that ingrained themselves into our minds from his many classic singles, his unique voice that carried the words, and his laidback style that we fell in love with. With this mix of songs that blend his musical timeline into a dessert of great taste, Neil Diamond offers an album that appeal to his entire audience. Diamond?s voice is strong and quite reminiscent throughout the album, allowing for us to easily reposition this album among his best works, certainly amongst our favourites.

For this album, Neil invites Tom Petty alumni, Benmont Tench (organ/piano), and Mike Campbell (guitar), and ‘man who has been there and done that’, Billy Preston (organ). In between, he employs a bright collection of session men as well as a small orchestra to “boost” the sound, to add colour to Neil Diamond’s spare diamond, and to add sparkle to the clarity.

Welcome back, Neil. You may not be a hero, but you’re the man we need. You’re an essential part of our musical heritage and a focal point of our memories. 12 Songs brings it all home.

——————————————————————————–

Release Date: November 8, 2005
Produced by: Rick Rubin
Format: CD
Website: www.neildiamond.net

——————————————————————————–

Track Listing:

Oh Mary / Hell Yeah / Captain of a Shipwreck / Evermore / Save Me A Saturday Night / Delirious Love / I’m On To You / What’s It Gonna Be / Man of God / Create Me / Face Me / We.

——————————————————————————–

Neil Diamond:

Neil Diamond: Vocals / Guitar
Mike Campbell: Guitar
Smokey Hormel: Guitar
Benmont Tench: Piano / Organ
Larry Knechtel: Piano
Roger J Manning, Jr: Piano
Pat Mclaughlin: Guitar
Jonny Polonsky: Guitar / Upright Bass
Billy Preston: Organ / Hammond Organ
Jason Sinay: Guitar
Lenny Castro: Percussion
Patrick Warren: Chamberlin
David Campbell: Strings and Horn Arrangements / Conductor
Jimmie Haskell: Conductor (Evermore).

Rate
Click to rate this post!
[Total: 0 Average: 0]