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Songs From The West Coast
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"Elton John anunció hace poco que este será su último disco en estudio : esperemos que no cumpla su palabra, porque ""Songs from..."" es puro Elton John 100%. Su voz inconfundible y su sensibilidad habitual llevadas al extremo
Elton John, dont les notes intemporelles résonnent encore du fond de ses très excentriques années 70, vient de poser dans les bacs, avec la sage douceur qui l'accompagne depuis quelques années, ce qui n'est sans doute autre qu'un de ses meilleurs albums. Songs From The West Coast, puisque c'est ainsi qu'il a décidé d'intituler la chose, est un album qui coule entre nos oreilles comme un fleuve sans commencement ni fin, naturellement et sans aucun accroc. Intégrant quelques réminiscences des diatribes grandiloquentes de l'époque Goodbye Yellow Brick Road avec "Dark Diamond" ou le furieux contry-rock de "Birds", autant que les vapeurs suaves des slows qui ont gravé son nom sur les sommets de la pop music internationale, avec des titres comme "American Triangle" ou "The Emperor's New Clothes", ce nouvel album laisse transparaître l'âme d'un travail bien fait, peaufiné et pensé jusque dans ses moindres détails.
Laissant nos âmes s'égarer sur les chemins sinueux de ses mélodies de piano pimentées de ce qu'il faut d'orgue et de cymbales discrètes, Songs From The West Coast ressemble à un voyage initiatique qui re-capture et synthétise, en 12 morceaux, les sensibilités mêlées des albums Honky Chateau et Madman Across The Water. Et sur ces nappes somptueuses, viennent se poser les mots d'une poésie ingénieuse qui transportent ce nouvel opus hors des sentiers tracés par les conventions de la musique actuelle. Du grand art. --Toma Blondeau
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Après 30 ans de carrière, Elton étonne toujours et c'est rassurant!
Soudé à son instrument comme jamais, Elton propose ici un vrai disque de songwriter, de piano man. Dans une inflexion effectivement orientée West, il retrouve ses accents américains de l’époque TUMBLEWEED CONNECTION et revisite le patrimoine qu’il affectionne tant (THIS TRAIN DON'T STOP THERE ANYMORE, BIRDS). Tel l’alchimiste de la pop qu’il est, il mijote de nouvelles formules magiques aux structures alambiquées (MANSFIELD, AMERICAN TRIANGLE), nous envoie encore en l’air avec superbe (ORIGINAL SIN, I WANT LOVE), et redevient, par instant, le Reginald Dwight des salles de bal de sa jeunesse, grâce à ce rock n’roll fondateur qui l’a tant influencé (THE WASTELAND). Bref, un vrai bon disque d’un grand artiste qui, loin de capitaliser sur la simple nostalgie, a réussi à retrouver son chemin tout en acquérant une sincérité simplement due à sa musicale humilité. Chapeau.
Tops : ORIGINAL SIN, MANSFIELD, THIS TRAIN DON'T STOP THERE ANYMORE, I WANT LOVE, THE WASTELAND
J' ai suivi leur conseil, et je ne peux que les remercier pour leur avantageux conseil !
Merci donc à tous deux pour ce conseil avisé !
Merci aussi à amazon pour la description produit, c'est tout bon...
Fan d' Elton il fût un temps ou je finis par me lasser....
Donc je confirme, Du très grand Elton, aussi bon que quand c'est bon , et qu'on se dit tiens c'est Elton...
Des compositions dans l'esprit des merveilleux albums des années 70...
Donc n'hésitez pas achetez ce CD et écoutez le encore et encore, on ne se lasse pas l'album entier est génial....!
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But here's Songs From The West Coast and suddenly, Elton sounds vital again. The album opens on a stunning note: "The Emperor's New Clothes" starts off with a great piano intro and then Elton's voice kicks in; the chorus finds '70's stalwarts Davey Johnstone and Nigel Olsen joining in on backing vocals with cymbal brushes from drummer Olsen, and you find yourself wondering what decade it is. Only the deeper register of Elton's voice gives it away. But Elton sounds fine on this album, with his most soulful and nuanced singing in years. And Lyricist Bernie Taupin gives him plenty of quality stuff to wrap his pipes around. There are plenty of standout tracks: "Original Sin" is one of the most beautiful ballads he's ever written. The country-ish "Birds" harkens back to the Tumbleweed days and sounds like it was recorded on somebody's back porch. "The Wasteland" is a gospel blues that invokes delta bluesman Robert Johnson and rocks convincingly. "I Want Love", the first single, is Lennonesque. "The Ballad Of The Boy In The Red Shoes" sounds like something from the Madman sessions. "This Train Don't stop There Anymore", the wistful album closer, would feel right at home on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
Producer Patrick Leonard also does a fine job, finding a nice balance between modern recording and the backwards-looking quality of this music. The shlock of most of his '90's recordings is gone.
Songs From The West Coast goes a long ways towards restoring a reputation damaged by too many Disney projects and not enough attention to his music. On Songs From The West Coast, Elton John has rediscovered himself.
It's about time.
While to claim it as one of Elton's all-time best would be a rush to judgement, it's still nonetheless astounding that with SONGS, Elton finally tried his hardest to create another masterpiece like his early '70s music, using the same intelligent songwriting that was reminiscent of TUMBLEWEED CONNECTION and CAPTAIN FANTASTIC, along with getting back behind his piano on a larger basis than before. The only thing that is different is that Elton's voice is now deeper than it was in the early days, owing perhaps to age or the long-lasting signs of his addictions. But it's a voice of experience nonetheless, and SONGS shows just how far Elton has come after 3 decades of celebrity.
The first single "I Want Love" was hailed as Elton's finest in almost 20 years, and this John Lennon-inspired ballad is certainly worthy of that honor. While the singer may want something a little akin to a one-night stand rather than truly lasting love, it still speaks to any listener who has wanted some kind of affection, no matter what. Not since the title track to 1992's THE ONE had Elton created such an affecting ballad.
Elton's ballads have always been the surefire winners in his career, and those on SONGS do not disappoint. "Original Sin", the heartfelt "Ballad Of The Boy In Red Shoes" & the anthemic closer "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" (perhaps hinting at a final break with his decadent past) are further additions to that long list of great slow songs in Elton's catalog. The fact that producer Patrick Leonard decided to give the album a more roots-based production (he's Elton's most sympathetic producer since Gus Dudgeon) makes the strengths of these tunes even more crystal clear.
But of course, "American Triangle" is the reigning king of the album's ballads for its emotion alone. An intensely moving tribute to the late Matthew Shepard, you can tell Elton felt a kinship with Shepard, as an openly gay man himself. While the lyrics could be misinterpreted as homophobic, this is definitely not the case, and is just simply a case of not whitewashing its subject. Hopefully, one listen to this song will turn any hateful person around.
Because Elton's most recent big hits have been Adult Contemporary-leaning ballads, his status as a credible rocker back in his early days is often overlooked. Yet SONGS helps put paid to the fact that Elton still can rock, and perhaps even better than before. The opening "The Emperor's New Clothes" is the siren call that Elton the rocker has returned. "Dark Diamond" is a borderline funk experiment with the welcome help of Stevie Wonder on harmonica. The blues-based "The Wasteland" has been denounced as a sour apple, but it's not half-bad, even if it does warrant perhaps a finer-crafted experiment on the next album.
The other songs do indeed take a while to register, but once they do, you can't overlook their stellarness. "Look Ma No Hands", the countryish "Birds" (finally seeing Elton return to TUMBLEWEED CONNECTION days successfully), "Love Her Like Me" (which is a slight descension back into AC gloss) & "Mansfield" all work their ways into your subconscious eventually. Just give them time!
At Elton John's age (he just turned 57), a veteran like him would maybe be expected to lose the genius of their early years & just let the accolades from the product of that era keep rolling in. After constantly being accused of coasting along for the last two decades or so, re-energizing himself was probably the last thing Elton could be expected to do. But with SONGS FROM THE WEST COAST, he did that and then some. Hints of the album may point to being a certain valediction (Elton commented a year or two ago about it being his last album), but I don't think Elton is leaving us for good. He could just be weary from all the activity of the last few years, and is in need of a rest. When he does come back, we can best be sure that another modern masterpiece like SONGS FROM THE WEST COAST is definitely in the offing.
The album is far from flawless but there are many jewels to be found on the road to the west coast. Lyrically Bernie Taupin returns to one of his favorite topics the American West. This time, though, Taupin focuses on the contemporary "wild west" that surrounds him. He focuses on both real life topics (Matthew Shepard's murder in American Triangle) and his own loss of faith in humanity (This Train Don't Stop There Anymore). While some of the selections are lyrically obtuse, that doesn't dilute the power of the best songs.
Songs is a rare example of a third act in the music field. At this stage in John's career one could expect him to continue to churn out formulaic songs in the same vein as his late 80's early 90's work. Songs provides us with a snapshot of a performer that is interested in returning to what he's done best in the past--create narrative songs that say something about who we were, who we are and where were going.
This Elton John person began to come back in the 90s with albums like "The One", "Made in England", which included his first non-Disney #1 song in nearly 20 years, and "The Big Picture". Each of these albums had some of the flavor of that pre-1976 Elton person. And now, "Songs from the West Coast". The original Elton John is back, grown up, older, wiser, and better than ever.
The orchestration that cluttered so many of his albums in the late 70s and into the 80s is gone. Elton has found his piano again, prominent in this CD, as it was in his earliest albums. The sound is much simpler, and yet, somehow more sophisticated in its maturity, than so many of the albums that came after 1976. In a word, this is Elton John as I would have wanted him to sound in the new millenium.
"The Emperor's New Clothes" has a sound right out of "Don't Shoot Me", with backup vocals that are reminiscent of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", without being retreads. "Dark Diamond" is vaguely reminiscent of some of Elton's 80s music, only constructed with the skill that only occasionally surfaced in that period.
"Look Ma, No Hands" is solid pop, Elton style, not overblown, sparse, good music. There is a wonderful piano solo in the bridge...if only it was a little longer.
"American Triangle" laments intolerance in the United States, and wonders what inheritance was given to the children of America. The song may be a reference to the gay-bashing murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming. A sad song about a sad subject.
Another bluesy song, "Original Sin", follows. A love song that would seem to be about someone's first true love, and perhaps first sexual experience.
The CD then breaks the depression with an almost whimsical song, "Birds", a song about being shy or introspective. In a way it fits with Elton John.
"I Want Love", released with a video with Robert Downey, Jr., follows. The video was pretty novel with Downey lip-syncing the words to the song as he walked through a house. In many ways the song style was similar to videos by Lisa Loeb and one 80s video by Elton, but the lip-syncing was an interesting touch. The music to match the lyrics are so basic that the sparsity of orchestration well-matches the topic. And yes, there is a flavor of John Lennon in the music.
"The Wasteland" is a jazzy tune with a reference to a blues musician, Robert Johnson. I admit that I am not familiar with Robert Johnson, so I can't speak to the appropriateness of the reference. This particular song may be the weakest on the CD.
"The Ballad of the Boy in the Red Shoes", "Love Her Like Me", "Mansfield" and "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" end out the CD. The first of these four has a "Madman Across the Water" flavor to it. "Love Her Like Me" reminds me of "The Big Picture", which I enjoyed as well as this CD. "Mansfield" is a love song, but with a wonderfully mature touch versus schlocky teenager lyrics. These songs generally have an upbeat feel to them, even when the subject matter is serious. I hate to end a good review on a downbeat note, but "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" has the weakest lyrics of any song on this CD, a touch trite and corny in places. Oh well...skip over it if you can't deal with it, or try to focus on the music.
I grew up with Elton John, and was disappointed when his music did not keep pace with my tastes. While he continued to be a top 40 success, I longed for his music to mature into something serious. I felt his maturity growing in "The One", "Made in England", and the "The Big Picture". Elton has achieved a very wonderful piece of serious adult music with "Songs from the West Coast". I will buy every CD he creates from this point forward as long as the quality is similar to this one and those that just preceded it. Elton John has hit a new creative peak.