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Neil Diamond - Home Before Dark

2008-06-17 10:15
No, Neil Diamond doesn't quickly have his sequinned jumpsuit dry cleaned and book a residency in Vegas. He continues to strip away the shtick by delving even deeper into the back to acoustic basics template that helped Rubin renovate Johnny Cash's career with American Recordings.

"Free the word from the page/Free the bird from the cage/Just go out there and face what you did before/Did it once you can do it once more" he implores "One More Bite of the Apple". You can almost hear him searching for the muse that helped him pen his classic "Solitary Man" way back when.

Sure, Neil's old 'magic moment' habits die hard. "The Power of Two" is a bit of a colour by numbers faux-country shuffle about being in love, while "Slow It Down" is knobbled by some rather ham-fisted sentiments about easing into old age.
But you know what? Unlike 12 Songs this isn't just Diamond taking a leap of faith and going unplugged. It's way more. Boosted by an impressive cast of session men - including Mike Campbell (guitar) and Benmont Tench (keys) from Tom Petty's Heartbreakers, Tom Waits' guitarist Smokey Hormel - Neil sounds like he's on a mission to get his Mojo really working before he kicks the bucket.

And he does. "Another Day (That Time Forgot)" (with Dixie chick Natalie Maines) is an intimate 70s soft rock ballad that sidesteps soap p-operatic sentiments for an unflinchingly sincere reminiscence about a failed love affair. Elsewhere, subtle orchestral arrangements inject just the right amount of chamber pop ennui into a cautionary confession about his own cheating heart ("Don't Go There") and a sublime evocation of gratitude for having a girlfriend half his age who's willing to put up with a horny old goat like him ("Pretty Amazing Grace").

- Miles Keylock

What does a 67-year-old singer songwriter do when his producer, Rick Rubin sticks him back in the studio and says, "Sure 12 Songs was cool. But how about this time instead of 'Sweet Caroline' gone sour, imagine Bob Dylan covering 'Beautiful Noise'?"

John 2008/06/17 9:47 AM
! Miles are you a journalist?? It's NEIL DIAMOND. Not NIEL DIMAOND
suzie 2008/06/17 6:47 PM
Oh please Niel or Neil - its still a great review. Thanks Miles.
Jaco 2008/06/18 11:17 AM
Thanks Suzie Great review, which echoes other positive reviews and opinions I've heard. So, later today, I'll have a copy in my hands...
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