Reviews: Music – Album: 12 Songs

Reviews: Music
Album: 12 Songs
Label: Columbia
Artist: Neil Diamond

Our Call:

At a Glance: Neil Diamond: a living legend of music to say the least. He is third most successful contemporary artist in the history of the Billboard chart, behind only Elton John and Barbara Streisand. He’s already been inducted to the Songwriters Hall of Fame and has had his songs performed by a huge number of artists. If all that doesn’t tell you who he is, he wrote “Sweet Caroline.”

12 Songs is a heavily acoustic album, kind of similar to Jack Johnson. The music is very structured with easy beats, with a soft listening sound that’s relaxing. There are hints of background elements throughout the album such as organ, drums, and a few other random little instruments. Diamond’s vocal style is similar to Bob Dylan and Neil Young, both of whom are rock legends as well. At times he reflects the somber style of Johnny Cash. His voice sounds like he could bust into some heavier rock, but keeps it laid back. The album is produced by Rick Rubin who has been known for bringing back artists such as Johnny Cash, Donovan, and Tom Petty.

Pro-Social Content: Diamond hits the nail on the head a few times when talking about life. In “Captain of a Shipwreck,” the message about commitment in a relationship is as close as you can get (Trust in me to share your burden / Stand by you where / I belong when life brings the day uncertain). “We” send this same message, but the true meaning behind the words could be questioned a little bit (Love / It’s not about you. It’s not about me. / Love is all about WE. Yes, it’s all about we). “Man of God” is exactly what the title reflects. It’s Diamond’s view on his life as a man of God and walking by faith (I’m thanking you Lord for giving me song / for making me strong and for taking my hand / Singing for Him is like touching the sky / I don’t need to know why I just know that it is). Although “Man of God” has prayerful lyrics, it is kind of a paradox within the album when considering some of the other negative lyrical content.

Objectionable Content: 12 Songs is an album that isn’t totally negative, but the lyrics are often a bit skewed which makes them negative. “Hell Yeah” is a song about Diamond’s “rock n’ roll” lifestyle and isn’t exactly one that’s based on Christian values (I freed my soul / just let it fly. / Hell yeah this crazy life around me / It confuses and confounds me / But it’s all the life I’ve got until I die). If you do listen to this album, I suggest you shy away from “Delirious Love.” The message it sends is lustful and demeans the word ‘love’ (Me and you underneath a mysterious spell / Nothin’ I could do and it suddenly felt like a bolt out of hell / Neither one of us trying to hold it down / Neither one of us taking the middle ground / Wouldn’t do it before we were doin’ it now).

Summary/Suggestions: Overall, this album’s continued to grow on me with more listening. It is important to watch out for the lyrics, at times, because they send contradictory moral messages. If you want to know more about Neil Diamond, this might be a good discussion to have with your parents. I’m sure they know a little bit about ‘The Diamond’ if they listened to music in their younger days.

– Tom Venzor

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