Narendra Kusnur's music musings …

melody road

Melody Road/ Neil Diamond

Genre: Singer-songwriter

Labels: Universal Music

Price: Rs 395

Rating: ****

NEIL Diamond just has to be one of the best singers ever. His distinct vocal timbre, soaring range and ability to write great songs give him a special advantage. Having been prolific since the mid-1960s, he continues to churn out some incredible stuff today at the age of 73.

Tune in to his latest album ‘Melody Road’, and it’s amply clear Diamond hasn’t lost an iota of his charm. His songs are simple yet powerful, and his voice still has the magic we heard on earlier anthems like ‘Play me’, ‘Crackling Rosie’, ‘Beautiful noise’ , ‘Sweet Caroline’, ‘Soolaimon’, ‘Shilo’, ‘Kentucky woman’ and ‘Song sung blue’.

Setting this 12-track set into motion is the typically-Diamond title song, where he begins, “Melody road I’m on with you, all the way to the end, I know every song you lead me to is gonna be my friend.” On ‘First time’, he sounds like he’s about to slip into ‘Cracklin Rosie’.

These songs just build the mood, but on the third number ‘Seongah and Jimmy’, Diamond springs a complete surprise. A song about the love between a Korean girl and American boy, inspired by his brother-in-law, this is very unlike Diamond, and has a flute-driven theatrical ambience.

The other tunes brim with romance and emotion too. On the waltzy ballad ‘Something blue’, he sings, “I came with a little bit of sorrow, was maybe a bit too sad; But one day rolled into tomorrow, and you gave me the best you had; That’s how we started together, and how together we’re gonna stay.”

Then, on ‘Nothing but a heartache’, he easily gets into the higher octave to deliver the words, “You’re the sum of all my heartbeats, you’re the only truth my heart needs; Showed me how to make the journey. I can’t let you walk away; No, not today; ‘Cause I’ve already slept with heartache, time to chase the night away; Just the two of us together, does forever sound okay?; Say yes it does, say yes it does.”

The nostalgia-filled ‘In better days’, the haunting ‘(OOO) Do I wanna be yours’ and the uptempo, Billy Joel-ish ‘Alone at the ball’ grow on repeated hearing, whereas ‘Sunny disposition’ and ‘The art of love’ talk of romantic liaisons. The optimistic ‘Marry me’ is filled with celebratory trumpets, as Diamond sings, “Marriage’s not an easy thing, but look at all the joy it brings.”

Backed by charming acoustic guitars and moody string sections, the songs are tightly composed and neatly arranged. If you thought Diamond’s later albums ’12 Songs’ and ‘Home Before Dark’ were enough proof that he is showing no signs of slowing down, ‘Melody Road’ further substantiates that feeling. Like all his previous work, it’s his voice that works wonders.

RATING SCALE: * Poor; ** Average; *** Good; **** Excellent; ***** Simply outstanding


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