SONGS FROM THE WEST COAST

JANE STEVENSON

, Last Updated: 3:30 PM ET


SONGS FROM THE WEST COAST
Elton John
(Mercury)

On his latest collection, out Tuesday, John returns to his stripped-down beginnings as a serious singer and piano player.

And I, for one, say it's about bloody time after a steady stream of overproduced pap like Can You Feel The Love Tonight.

Hooking up with longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin, the singer says he wanted a sound reminiscent of his earlier material from 1970's Elton John to 1975's Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy.

Even if John doesn't quite reach those heights, he gets awfully close on a couple of occasions, such as the heartbreaking American Triangle, which mourns the 1998 murder of young gay student Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, and features Canadian Rufus Wainwright on harmony vocals.

"Western skies, don't make it right, unmark the grave, don't make no sense, I seen a scarecrow wrapped in wire, left to die on a highridge fence," John sings on the chorus.

Other standouts include the rootsy, soulful Birds, the uptempo gospel-soul tune Wasteland and Ballad Of The Boy With The Red Shoes, about a ballet dancer dying of AIDS.

Guests include Stevie Wonder playing harmonica on Dark Diamond, another highlight, while Billy Preston turns up on B3 organ on Wasteland and Love Her Like Me.

John pulls into the Air Canada Centre Saturday night. (More on: Elton John).

Track Listing 1. The Emperor's New Clothes
  2. Dark Diamond
  3. Look Ma No Hands
  4. American Triangle
  5. Original Sin
  6. Birds
  7. I Want Love
  8. The Wasteland
  9. Ballad Of The Boy In The Red Shoes
  10. Love Her Like Me
  11. Mansfield
  12. This Train Don't Stop There Anymore
 


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