Music Review: “The Union” – Elton John and Leon Russell

In Music Reviews on October 30, 2010 at 8:29 pm

When I first heard Elton John was coming out with a new album, I was thrilled. Then I listened to a few songs on YouTube (the album had not yet been released). I’ll be honest, I didn’t like what I heard. Leon Russel’s voice grated on me. The sound seemed tired and I wanted Elton. Just Elton and Davey (guitar) and Bernie (lyrics) doing their “thang.”

So, with reluctance I bought the album because, come on, it’s Elton-freaking-John. There’s going to be a gem on there somewhere. There always is. (That and he’s been my favorite musician since high-school).

That being said, I’m glad I bought the album. It’s different, I’ll say that much. But, it’s different in positive way. It’s a little bit folk, a lot gospel, with a tinge of county and just a tad pop thrown in for good measure. Elton hasn’t done much pop since 2001’s “Songs From the West Coast” which was freaking unbelievable.

Elton John during his "Face 2 Face" tour with Billy Joel. Phoenix, AZ / March 2009. Photo by Jeremia Schrock.

The more I listen to The Union, the more I like it. If you’re an Elton enthusiast this album will sound like a mix between “Tumbleweed Connection” (1970) and “Peachtree Road” (2004). There are even moments of “Honky Chateau” (1972) on there, too. All three excellent albums.

Songs that really stand out include the current single “If It Wasn’t for Bad” and “Hey Ahab.” They are fucking solid.

“Monkey Suit”, “Gone to Shiloh” and “I Should Have Sent Roses” are also growing on me. “Monkey Suit” sounds very 1950’s and “Gone to Shiloh is just…sad. Sad in that “we few, we happy few” sort of way.

Be warned, it may take more then one listen for The Union to really stand out. The more you listen to it, the more you start to sing it in the shower. Especially “Hey Ahab”, which, you know, makes sense.

Album Released: October 19, 2010.


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