Elton John — Diving Board
Audio CD, Rs. 395
What is left for Elton John to accomplish? After selling a gazillion records, winning innumerable awards and Grammys, being knighted and recognised by the global music scene as one of the best-selling artistes of the world, it’s easy to say that if there is one man who can claim to have done it all, its Elton. However, here he is dabbling in another album dishing out new work which seems perplexing and fascinating at the same time.
The aging rock star plunges into fresh waters with Diving Board in collaboration with lyricist Bernie Taupin who has being giving words to Elton’s songs since 1967. While it may seem difficult to label this as Elton’s best foot forward, it is definitely the Rocket Man’s strongest set of songs in recent years.
Sounding almost liberated in ‘Oceans Away’, the pianist kicks off the album with a vocal piano solo - a gentle reminder to the rock ‘n’ roll legend’s breath-taking voice. ‘Oscar Wilde Gets Out’ meanders more to the younger Elton with a lot of emphasis on the narrative.
The song sets the tone of the album – a gracefully aging Elton who still enchants each note like a work of art. The guitars and drums add just the right amount of feel to Bernie’s look back to younger days.
The narrative changes course to more social waters in ‘The Ballad of Blind Tom’ about a black boy who can play almost anything on the piano.
Elton laces the album with three instrumental pieces titled ‘Dream #1, 2 and 3’ which begins with melancholic nuances and tides over to symphonic storms exuding rich vibrant tones.
‘My Quicksand’ talks about the mistakes one makes in life. The emotion-driven piece is the jazziest track on the album and mirrors Elton’s own passion for life. On ‘Can’t Stay Alone Tonight’ and ‘The New Fever Waltz’, the maestro churns a stormy revolution in the waters as he explores the delicate desperation to find love late in life.
The best track on the record is probably ‘Home Again’. Elton touches base in this composition and recreates a glorious calm in the eye of the storm. He emanates a wonderful sense of peace, relief and comfort as he journeys home again.
The ‘Mexican Vacation (Kids In The Candlelight)’, despite its seemingly light-hearted waves dives deeper into a more challenging topic of overcoming hurdles. The song delves on the optimism of youth and focuses on salvation for children highlighting the tremendous faith Elton has on the younger generation of today.
The album finale with the same name ends on a contradictory note. The freedom-rich composition is provocative and seemingly almost biographical. Though Elton sings its ‘sink or swim’, he rises from the water with an evocative glory to stand on the ‘Diving Board’.
The album is no easy listen though offering precious little the first time. It demands the listener to go back to it again and again and discover more each time. There is no proving for Elton and Bernie in Diving Board. It’s just a brilliant work of art by some of the best songwriters of our time and all you got to do is settle in and listen.