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A Songwriting Masterclass
on 18 February 2006
In the early days Neil Diamond wrote certifiable pop/rock classics such as Cherry Cherry, Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon, I'm a Believer and Solitary Man. Unfortunately, as his success grew in the seventies, so did the production values on his records and the quality of the writing (still there for those who cared to see and hear) became lost in the syrup in which they were immersed by unsympathetic producers.
Now, Neil has finally turned again to a producer who understands the craft, Rick Rubin. These songs have, for the most part, minimal production interference. The songs and the voice are front and centre. They are masterful
Oh Mary is as beautiful a ballad as one could ever hear, with Diamond's inimitable baritone coating it in velvet. Evermore is powerful and emotionally draining. Man of God is inspirational.
Hell Yeah is Diamond's affirmation of a life well lived. Face Me is soul destroyingly painful. Create Me is almost hymn like. Delirious Love is evocative of the best of Diamond's 'thumping' uptempo songs.
I'm On to You is jazzy and a perfect kiss off song. Save Me a Saturday Night and Captain of a Shipwreck are wonderful love songs. What's it Gonna Be is a confident seduction. We is funny and simple and unbelievably catchy and Men are So Easy is an effective plea for understanding.
A mature, thoughtful, intelligent Diamond has delivered, along with Rubin, one of the records of this or any other year.