Songs From The West Coast

Songs From The West Coast

4.9 22
by Elton John
     
 

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Just about every artist of, shall we say, "a certain age," has tried his or her luck by climbing into the ol' time machine and setting the controls for the good old days. Few make the trip unscathed, but on his latest offering, Elton John proves that it can be done. Songs from the West Coast is a surprisingly rough-and-tumble replication of the finest earlySee more details below

Overview

Just about every artist of, shall we say, "a certain age," has tried his or her luck by climbing into the ol' time machine and setting the controls for the good old days. Few make the trip unscathed, but on his latest offering, Elton John proves that it can be done. Songs from the West Coast is a surprisingly rough-and-tumble replication of the finest early Eltonia, mixing the bite of Madman Across the Water with the pop-rock snap of Honky Chateau, particularly on the Beatles-tinged rocker "I Want Love." Elton bats around a variety of styles here, connecting solidly on the rootsy "The Emperor's New Clothes" and the New Orleans-styled "The Wasteland," on which he spars with fellow keyboardist Billy Preston. There's a somber tone to many of the album's songs, notably "American Triangle," which candidly dissects Matthew Shepard's homophobic murder, and "Ballad of the Boy in the Red Shoes," a regretful retrospective from the point of view of a man suffering from AIDS. Even when the going gets tough, however, Elton refuses to get maudlin -- which, given the tenor of his recent projects, is cause for celebration. Clearly, not every pop icon can go home again. But it's great to hear that Elton, for one, still has the keys to his old pop Pleasuredome.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Throughout his songs for The Road to El Dorado, Elton John hinted at his classic sound of the early '70s, but it's still a refreshing surprise to find him largely returning to that sound on his 2001 album, Songs From the West Coast. It was easy to think that John wasn't interested in writing like this anymore, given not just his continued success, but the ease with which he was crafting pleasant adult contemporary records. There are still elements of that on Songs From the West Coast -- a few of the ballads are a little too even-handed, and since this is a modern recording, it lacks the resonant warmth of such classics as Honky Chateau and Tumbleweed Connection. Still, this is the richest, best record he's released in a long time, an album where it feels like a hit single is secondary to the sheer pleasure of craft, whether it's crafting a song or an album. And this is an album that flows easily and naturally, setting the mood with the story sketch "The Emperor's New Clothes" and then heading in a number of scenic directions. Of these, "American Triangle," his elegy for Matthew Shepard, will likely receive the most attention, but the most interesting are songs like the bluesy "The Wasteland," "Ballad of the Boy in the Red Shoes," which recalls the Tumbleweed epics, the neo-Captain Fantastic tune "Dark Diamond," the soulful closer "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore," and "Birds," a terrific, spare, rolling country-rocker. His songwriting hasn't been this diverse or consistent since the early '80s, and he hasn't made a record better than this in years. No, Songs From the West Coast won't make you forget Tumbleweed Connection, but it often recalls those peaks, which, frankly, is enough.
Rolling Stone - Barry Walters
John can't always send his music soaring the way it used to, but its spirit and ambition have finally come back.
Blender - John Aizlewood
John has rediscovered his muse.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/02/2001
Label:
Umvd Labels
UPC:
0731458633020
catalogNumber:
586330

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