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12 Songs

Studio Album by released in 2005
12 Songs's tracklist:
Oh Mary
Hell Yeah
Captain of a Shipwreck
Evermore
Save Me a Saturday Night
Delirious Love
I'm on to You
What's It Gonna Be
Man of God
Create Me
Face Me
We

12 Songs review

12 Songs shows Neil Diamond is still passionate about his craft

After a long absence, Neil Diamond is back to inspire us to love again. Although he began his career as a songwriter-for-hire, Diamond will always be better-known for the stylized showmanship that has drawn millions to his concerts during the past 30 years. At the urging of legendary producer Rick Rubin, Diamond finally dispenses with the glitz on 12 Songs, arguably his best album since 1972’s Moods. Diamond`s unadorned voice is front and center, as is his own guitar playing, which has not been heard on one of his records in decades. At 64, Diamond`s got nothing left to prove, but 12 Songs shows he is still passionate about his craft. Producing a Neil Diamond album has been a long-time dream for Rubin, whose extraordinary resume spans the history of hip-hop from LL Cool J to Jay Z, the world of hardcore rock from Slayer to System Of A Down, and the pantheon of mythic stars from Tom Petty and Donovan to Mick Jagger and Johnny Cash's immortal Grammy-winning American Recordings series. When it came time to record 12 Songs, Rubin assembled a sympathetic ensemble of musicians to capture the essence of Neil Diamond's extraordinary new songs, each of them a finely-wrought gem, soul-searching, honest, yearning, and powerful.

There is no filler on this album, no false moves or phony moments

There is wisdom, grace, and power in Diamond's voice and words, recapturing a vitality and dynamic that he has not displayed in seeming aeons. He sounds warm, yet defiant and feisty also. Oh Mary is a simple song and its power is in its very understatement...the longing and pathos in Diamond's voice is palpable. Hell Yeah is a triumph, it's Diamond's My Way, but you get the sense that Diamond still has more life left in him, rather than being simply an epitaph. Other highlights include Evermore, with it's building intensity, and the giddy, swinging Delirious Love. You will love the simplicity, spirituality, and conviction of Man of God, and the directness of Face Me. There is no filler here on this album, no false moves or phony moments. Here is the sound of a seasoned, successful artist re-discovering the joy of daring and risk-taking and knowing that somehow it's really, really working well. The most interesting moments on 12 Songs are when Diamond steps away from the light love songs that have become his trademark and into deeper relationship fare – most effectively on the love-gone-bad track I'm on to You and the lovelorn plea What's it Gonna Be. That's not to say that Diamond avoids his bread-and-butter altogether: Delirious Love and We are the kind of bouncy love songs that Diamond's fans have eaten up for years.

Pairing with Rubin works to Diamond's advantage

Diamond’s voice, a delicately plucked guitar and a batch of finely wrought new songs make 12 Songs one of the year's most unexpectedly satisfying albums. Stripped of the fancy production and show-biz bluster Diamond is known for, the bare-bones acoustic disc reveals the '60s folkie behind the sequins. And, like the American Recordings discs Rubin cut with Johnny Cash, 12 Songs places an instantly recognizable, heartfelt delivery center stage. Though he long ago proved his ability to write first-class pop songs, Neil Diamond has, for the last couple of decades, mostly seemed content to rest on his previous accomplishments. On 12 Songs, he finally puts in another effort that's worthy of his always-passionate live shows. Pairing with Rubin works to Diamond's advantage, in that it gives the singer the opportunity to explore and challenge his dwindling relevance with a great efficacy. 12 Songs is an intimate recording with a rocker's restlessness and a showman's confidence. It reestablishes, for the first time in 30 years, Neil Diamond as a relevant figure in pop music. As strong an album as it is, it suggests that the follow-up could be even better.

(05.12.2005)
Rate review3.16
Total votes - 18


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