As is the case with so many of his contemporaries, Sir Elton “More Bombast!” John has, of late, stripped down the production values a tad.
It helps that his latest project The Union (which comes out today) has him recording (after years of playing together) with silver-bearded folk-rock royalty Leon Russell; the two first met at West Hollywood’s Troubadour club in 1970, long before Elton’s Hakuna Matata period. It also helps that T-Bone Burnett has his producerly fingerprints all over the thing—we’d spin pretty much anything with his Americana-loving stamp on it. (We’ve recently re-discovered the excellent gospel-tinged mix he curated for the Ladykillers soundtrack—middling movie, fantastic music.) And then there are the guests stopping by: Brian Wilson, Neil Young, Booker T. Jones; factor in a few bits of gospel choir here and there, and it sounds like you’re in church, if church was a honkytonk with a full bar near the altar. No dancing lion cubs here.
John and Russell bring their earthy sound alive on dueling pianos (piani?) at 8PM at The Beacon Theater tonight in a concert that’ll broadcast live on Fuse.
And finally, you can stream The Union in full from NPR’s First Listen over here.