Since 1992, if you bought a new Elton John recording your choices were: slow, slower, or a soundtrack. The quality was never lacking, but usually, energy and "life force" were; the music sometimes seemed paint-by-numbers. Having seen Elton live countless times, where nothing but energy and talent filled the room, I knew that the discs weren't giving Elton justice. I am happy to say that this disc finally lays that all to rest.
Peachtree Road effortly combines the two things we've come to expect from Elton over his 35 years in the industry: outstanding lyrics and incomparable musicianship. Here, you'll find songs that are simple yet deep, spiritual yet grounded. Touching on everything from being happy with one's lot in life ("All That I'm Allowed") to love's intoxication ("My Elusive Drug") to the character tale of a transsexual ("They Call Her The Cat"), Bernie Taupin has simultaneously done what he does best: paint scenes, and capture Elton's moods.
With so much on-the-spot material to work with, Elton's work is inspired. He still tends toward ballads, but the ballads here actually have depth and soul. "My Elusive Drug," self-acknolwedged autobiographical track, brings out richness in Elton's voice -- you can FEEL that Elton feels this song, and thhat, folks, is what music is all about.
Most refreshingly, we see the funky Elton of old raise his head with a vengeance. '60s-rock-tinged blues appears in "They Call Her The Cat," complete with a lively horn section. Nashville should aspire to create again such a pure country song as "Turn The Lights Out When You Leave," complete with steel guitar.
Some other items of note: This is the first CD that Elton himself has produced. The disc is dedicated fittingly to Gus Dudgeon and his wife Sheila. It's clear that Elton has learned how to produce an ear-pleasing record thanks to Dudgeon's masterful production of the '70s recordings. Beginning in the 80s, fans had to suffer through years of mind-numbing Chris Thomas productions where everything was flattened into nothingness. Elton's production is clean and crisp, much like Dudgeon's early work, with pianos and vocals returning to the front, their rightful place. This is a treat for the listener and a great tribute to Gus.
And, again, we see Elton working with the original band: Nigel and Dave. You get a sense that recording the CD was a flawless, joyful effort.
And that is the overriding tone here... Peachtree Road is a CD full of looking-back-on-life happiness. The lyrics, songs and production combine to make this a road that you're happy to relax and travel on for a long, long time.