Three Chord Opera has all the elements of a Neil Diamond album I have come to expect - a mixture of ballards and catchy upbeat numbers, all arranged beautifully, and a pleasure to listen to. All the songs are new, penned by Diamond, and range from the complex "I haven't played this song in years", through the straightforward love song "My special someone", to the tongue-in-cheek "At the movies". I don't have much time to listen to anything these days, so I was quite surprised to find that even after one play through, every one of these new songs had made an impression, and I was eagerly awaiting my next opportunity to play the CD. This really is music which is easy to listen to, but that doesn't mean it has no depth. The range of musical styles and instruments on this album is particularly notable, and has me discovering something new each time I play it.
On listening the first time, there are a few surprises - "Mission of Love" will raise your spirits even if after the first few bars you were expecting a melancholy song about the trials of love, "Leave a little room for God" will have you singing the song hours after you left the stereo, even if you don't identify with the sentiment, and I heard echoes of Bruce Springsteen in the introduction to "Elijah's Song" (written with Diamond's grandchild in mind I believe).
This is unmistakably Diamond, lyrically and musically. If you enjoyed "Lovescape", or other Diamond albums from the mid-70's onwards, you will enjoy this, and appreciate how Diamond's lyrics and arrangements continue to evolve. If your experience of Diamond is limited to the 60's and 70's, you will find the same songwriter, same sense of humour, same appeal to all age groups, same ability to produce songs you will want to listen to again and again, and much more sophisticated production - try it!