- Several reviewers have lamented that Elton's new album doesn't rock out enough or is too "Adult Contemporary." They were perhaps expecting Goodbye Yellow Brick Road/Rock of the Westies, and got, instead, Honky Chateau/Tumbleweed Connection. I say, just be thankful you didn't get Victim of Love/Leather Jackets.
I suspect the disgruntled reviewers are younger than 40 or not comfortable with their age. Lack of a scientific poll prevents me from proclaiming that as fact, but I suspect it to be true. Let's face it, Elton is no spring queen and members of his core baby-boomer audience aren't so young either. The man is 57 years old, and no man is the same at 57 as he was at 27. What Elton is, based on a listen to this album, is a happier, more-comfortable-in-his-own skin Elton. He is more mature and reflective, and this is evident in his music.
While Songs From the West Coast was heralded as his "return to form," Peachtree Road is, in fact, that record. While very well done, SFTWC was pretty much a downer, even though EJ was back at the piano and in fine vocal form. Peachtree Road is more bouncy and uplifting, while paying homage to his adopted southland. The songs on this album each extract some different good from his 70's catalog, leaving the chaff on the grain house floor. His voice is deeper than 30 years ago, but, in many respects better. He interprets lyrics better and infuses them with emotions that he didn't dream about back them.
I've been an Elton John fan since 1972. He's never sounded better, and he and Bernie Taupin have rarely written better songs. Taupin's lyrics are grown-up and seem to nail precisely this period in Elton's life. In the early days, his lyrics were sometimes indecipherable, saved by Elton's hooks and vocals. Today they stand on their own and are merely enhanced by John's ability to craft superior tunes. They are more adult contemporary than rock n' roll, but, hey, aren't most of the rest of us these days? Be honest. You know it's true. Now to the songs:
1. Weight of the World- A "Hey, I realize I'm not a young man anymore, but I'm cool with it" song. Invoking memories of something from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, very autobiographical. EJ leads off the album letting us know he's just happy to be here, thank you very much. Nice melody.
2. Porch Sing in Tupelo- This one starts Elton and Bernie on their southland journey, accurately describing a more laid back culture and not one mention of anyone being married to their cousin! And, I think, a nod to Elvis. One of my favorite tracks.
3. Answer in the Sky- First American single and very uplifting. Capt. Fantastic, in 1975, sang "All this talk of Jesus coming back to see us couldn't fool us." Fast forward 30 years to a slightly older and wiser Sir Elton, who acknowledges there is someone out there bigger than us. Great mid-tempo, radio-friendly song.
4. Turn the Lights Out When You Leave- Remember "Texan Love Song"? Just about as country as Elton can get and with lyrics to make George Jones proud. Hey, go ahead and leave and don't let the door hit you in the a** on the way out. Very cool.
5. My Elusive Drug-Jazzy and well-suited to John's "mature" voice, a song about love so true, it liberates. Maybe the best reviewed song on the album; seems jerky, but captivating at the same time. Just like some elusive drug.
6. They Call Her The Cat- The closest thing to rock and/or roll on the album and not too shabby thank you very much. I dare you not to move to this one. Elton seems to be having a very good time singing it.
7. Freaks In Love- How did he find out about my love life? "Love for Dummies" a Torch song for the rest of us. All of us in relationships can identify with this one.
8. All That I'm Allowed- The "rest of the planet" first single and my favorite song on the album. Very pop and a feel good tune to boot. Easy to sing along to and a positive message about being content with what we have.
9. I Stop and I Breathe- The album's obligatory Elton heartfelt ballad about a relationship surviving the hard times. Proof Peachtree Road is an EJ classic because, as the least of the songs on the CD, it's still better than most.
10. Too Many Tears- The second best song on the album flashes back to early 80's Elton with a message not to dwell on the bad things in the world but look at the beauty in the world and dwell on that.
11. It's Getting Dark In Here- And turn the last song on it's ear for a completely opposite point of view. This is a haunting song of depression and a longing for hope in a cruel world.
12. I Can't Keep This From You- Ahh, the sound of 70's AM radio classics. If you've ever been in love, yet afraid to confess to the object of your desire for fear of rejection, this song's for you.
I listened to Peachtree Road for yet the fourth time as I wrote this review. You know how some albums' quality seem to decline with repeated listening? Not this one. Nope, Sir Elton John may be getting older, but, bless his heart, he's actually getting better.