Neil Diamond – 12 Songs
You've got to hand it to Rick Rubin. The weird-beard producer and Def Jam mogul has moved seamlessly from his former life to an existence seemingly devoted to dragging washed up giants of American music back from the doldrums. Everyone knows about the alchemy he worked on Johnny Cash, but has he managed to similarly resurrect the career of Neil Diamond with 12 Songs?
Well, time will tell of course, but the master craftsmanship and stripped down emotional timbre apparent on the album certainly suggests that it has been a worthwhile mission for the time being. Shorn of the Las Vegas schmaltz that has accompanied him over the past twenty years or so, Diamond makes a fair stab at restating his claim to be one of the great songwriters. Openers Oh Mary and Hell Yeah get the record off to a righteously blistering start and, although the considered pace drags a bit, there is plenty more to commend on this mature and accomplished album. [Duncan Forgan]
12 Songs' is out on Feb 20.http://www.neildiamond.com