Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Neil Diamond

Home Before Dark

When Rick Rubin decided to apply his creepily magical touch to the sagging-to-the-loafers career of Neil Diamond, many youngsters who can’t remember life before Johnny Cash covered Nine Inch Nails probably didn’t even pay attention. Really, is there anything less sexy than a Nice Boy?

On 12 Songs, his first agreement at letting Rubin rub his beard all over Neil’s melodramatically sung songs (more John C. Reilly than Leonard Cohen), old Neil sounded tentative at times. Like his new audience — people who actually listen to music critics and/or ignore their mothers — Diamond probably couldn’t believe that the cool kids were letting this once mighty singer-songwriter back in the house.

Having pulled it off, Diamond actually comes back this time stronger, bolder... dare I say sexier? From the first song on, one can even hear a Nick Cave influence! (Mutual, I’m sure.) His lyrics are thoughtful, as deep as the lines in his face and the part in his toupee, his voice assured, and his band of Heartbreakers and Oldham/Pajo collaborator Matt Sweeney is top shelf.

c. 2008 LEO Weekly

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