Neil Diamond unveils some of the most stripped-down, heartfelt material of his storied career on "12 Songs," due Nov. 8 via Columbia.
...Of a piece with such vintage songs like "And the Grass Won't Pay No Mind," "I Am, I Said," "If I Never Knew Your Name" and "Juliet," the music here finds Diamond's instantly recognizable voice front and center, much in the vein of the "American Recordings" albums [Rick] Rubin made with Johnny Cash in the latter years of his life.
With a nod to the melody of his 1976 song "Beautiful Noise," "Hell Yeah" finds Diamond questioning whether he's made the most of his life: "This crazy life around me / It confuses and confounds me / but it's all the life I've got until I die."
..."12 Songs" features subtle backing by guitarist Smokey Hormel and Mike Campbell, keyboardists Billy Preston, Benmont Tench and Roger Manning Jr., guitarist/upright bassist Jonny Polonsky and percussionist Lenny Castro.
The digipak version of the album will feature the bonus track "Men Are So Easy" plus an alternate version of "Delirious Love" with a guest appearance by Brian Wilson.
I think this has a chance to be normal good (as opposed to Advanced good). It will be interesting to see if Neil Diamond can be embraced without irony. He is a very good songwriter, though I have to say I never quite know what he's talking about. And I'm always on board for projects that involve Mike Campbell, the world's most subtle guitarist. I'm intrigued.