A self-consciously stripped- down effort from the famous crooner, featuring uncharacteristically non-bombastic settings courtesy of producer Rick Rubin.
Diamond calls himself “a lucky old dreamer” and apparently sees it as his mission to save souls through song. This entails a lot of earnest discussion of heartbreaks, trials of faith, and dreams deferred, not to mention addressing the listener directly as “you” on nearly every track. The unabashedness of these grand gestures is actually somewhat refreshing in our age of elliptical, ironic lyrics. And the backing musicians—Billy Preston, Brian Wilson, and others—are superb.
Best Track: “Hell Yeah”
We thought maybe Rick Rubin would give this album the dark, edgy sound he gave Johnny Cash in his later records, but we forgot that Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond aren’t exactly the same person. The corny lyrics and that classic Neil Diamond buildup are still present in every song. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and the folkier, darker songs are a nice change of pace.
Best Track: “I’m On to You”
From the first track I could tell the album would pretty much stay the same the whole way through. The songs are all too slow. There’s not much melody. It’s pretty much like spoken word. Diamond speaks as if he is at the end of his life. It’s boring.
Best Track: “Delirious Love”