on June 18, 2008
I loved this album. I'd have given it 5 stars if not for one problem I had with the DVD. But before I get to that, I want to state for the record (no pun intended) how good this album is. If you loved 12 SONGS, you'll love this one, too. It's that simple. They are done in the same style and Diamond's catchy melodies really work with the expanded band used for this recording. It's pure Diamond. Any Neil Diamond fan knows what I'm talking about. I purchased the version with the bonus tracks and the DVD. As for the bonus tracks the Dylan cover is great the other cover not so much. I don't know if this is due to the fact that both of he bonus tracks are not Diamond compositions so they don't quite gel or what. The Dylan one is very good the other just seems a bit out of place. Perhaps further listenings will correct this.
As for the DVD, it should be great! You get a couple of live performances and a couple of studio performances. My knock against it is that, after the first tune, you can't hear ANY vocals. They are either mixed down to a whisper or were poorly recorded in the first place. On the last tune, The Boxer, they are just gone. You can't hear a word. I thought perhaps my DVD is defective in some way. Has anyone else encountered this problem.
But if you're a Diamond fan and have your eye on the single CD version of the album, then I can't recommend it highly enough. Just be wary of the DVD. It's an exercise in frustration. There's Neil singing his heart out and you can't hear a word!
However the album is one of the best I've heard this year.
on May 14, 2008
Powered back to credibility by 2005's "12 Songs", the re-booted Neil Diamond sticks with producer Rick Rubin for this follow-up, and retains Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench on guitar and keyboards. David Campbell's orchestral arrangements sweeten the sparseness, but the core of these 12 songs is still a weather-beaten sixtysomething battling the big questions of love and faith with a foghorn voice and an old acoustic guitar.
"Just go out there and face what you did before / Did it once you can do it once more", Neil Diamond sings on one of the album's many highlights.
Quality control slips occasionally, and guest Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines turns out for the turgid, haunting duet "Another Day (That Time Forgot", but is criminally wasted.
Diamond strikes gold with the album's first single, the Spanish-inflected "Pretty Amazing Grace" and the bluesy "Don't Go There". Diamond cuts deeper lyrically and the production is even simpler, utilizing hard-strummed acoustic guitars to carry the melody and provide percussion.
Simple is often best, such as the beguiling country tune "Act Like a Man" or the garage-band vamp of "Forgotten".
Saga-rock rarely sounded so good.