'Peachtree Road' offers the listener a harmless insight into the life of an artist...
Chris Carter 2004
It's easy to rag on Elton John. A formerly great artist drifting aimlessly in a world content to pass him by, Britain's premier pantomime dame continues to gamely trot out the hits. He's gradually edging towards self-parody as the flamboyant knight of M.O.R. dinner-music, condemned to soundtracking occasional Disney movies and flouncing his way through Royal Mail ads. Indeed, amidst all the bitching and tales of diva-like behaviour, it's easy to forget that musically he's done little of note in the past 25 years - it's hardly a coincidence that the last decent tune he released (2003's rogue hit "Are You Ready For Love?") was a spruced-up 70s out-take.
However, as his occasionally scathing public outbursts suggest, there's still a bit of spunk in the old dog yet, albeit in somewhat diluted form on Peachtree Road. "Porch Swing In Tupelo", for example, is a likeable slice of Americana which hints at past glories, recalling his countrified excursions on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of the hopelessly bland "Turn The Lights Out When You Leave", which quickly squanders its initial appeal ona forgettablechorus.
It's not that this is a particularly bad album - at its best, it offers the listener a harmless insight into the life of an artist comfortably coming to terms with his twilight years. At its worst, however, it is hideously self-indulgent both musically and lyrically (witness the egregious "Freaks In Love"), and prone to becoming mired in the kind of third-rate power ballads which soundtrack a dozen faceless Greatest Love of All-type compilations.
Too often here, Sir Elt coasts on past glories ("My Elusive Drug" harks back to "I've Seen That Movie Too", but his strained vocals at the songs conclusion reveal severe deficiencies), and too often it's all bluster and precious little substance: "Answer In The Sky" ladles on the power-chords, synthesised strings and gospel choir with gusto, but to limited impact.
'Fortune and fame are so fleeting these days / I'm happy to say: I'm amazed that I'm still around', he croons on weary album opener "Weight Of The World". Frankly, on this evidence, so am I.