As the name suggests, Peachtree Road
is heavily influenced by the sound of the American South, at times incorporating a choir, pedal steel, acoustic guitar as well as his trademark, piano virtuosity. The album has an irrepressible live quality and follows the acclaimed multi-platinum,Songs From the West Coast
released in 2002.
Much has been made of Elton John
's recent return to his songwriting roots, and Peach Tree Road
continues this approach. Much like predecessor, Songs from the West Coast
, the flabby excesses that dogged his musical output in recent times have been tucked away, sent home, and vanquished. What we have now, at least for the most part, is a somewhat muted affair: weary, with some fairly creaking production (the seventies style watery vocals, for instance, on opener "Weight of the World" are actually quite effective). It's been a long journey, on a long road, and even the man himself is "amazed that [he's] still around."
Elton's made no secret of the ear he holds out to the present competition, Ryan Adams in particular, and "Turn the Lights Out When You Leave", with its edges singed with country twang shows his admiration as inspirational. He slips up, with the pomposity of "Answer in the Sky" and the melodies seem to have run dry for the second half, but gems such as the rousing and rasping "They Call Her the Cat" are pleasantly reminiscent of his hipswinging, boogie days. More of these, and less bland tinkling would have pushed this further, but it's still a refreshing change that he'd be wise to continue. --Ben Johncock