I discovered something this week: if ever I want to listen to a good album, I’ll buy Q magazine, and read their review section. Albums that they give four or five stars, I’ll avoid like the plague, and those given one or two stars, I’ll go out and buy. I’ve been tricked into buying crap albums for the last time, Q, you misleading ol’ blighter, you.
Neil Diamond’s 12 songs album was awarded 4 stars from Q when it was released in 2005, but I only discovered this after I’d bought, and, thankfully, listened to it. For once, Q got it right.
Although Diamond deservedly has to take the lion’s share of the credit for being the album’s writer, singer, and performer (no less), praise also has to be heaped upon producer Rick Rubin for the love and affection he poured into these tracks. For a man who has produced albums for the likes of Metallica, Slipknot, Rage Against The Machine, and Beastie Boys, it shows incredible versatility to create such a gentle, relaxed mood on 12 songs. For the majority of the album, the only backing to Diamond’s vocal consists of acoustic guitar and piano, and although such sparse production is a bold move, Diamond’s rich, deep, colourful voice creates such an atmosphere, it renders more instrumentation unnecessary. Special mention must also be given to the acoustic guitar playing, which does such a god job in driving the rhythm of the songs that it’s easy to forget that there isn’t any actual percussion.
A fine, delightfully informal-sounding album from a legendary singer/songwriter and a top quality producer.