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“Forgotten scars remind us of too much war, too little love,” Elton John declares with such solemnity it takes a moment to register the nonsense he’s spouting. How can a “forgotten” scar remind us of anything? Elton’s lyricist Bernie Taupin has always been prone to this sort of ornate verbiage but the habit is particularly acute on The Diving Board, each puzzling phrase (“I went to Paris once/I thought I had a plan/I woke up with an accent”) delivered with barrel-chested, stentorian certainty by the singer.

The music comes across better, stately boogie-woogie and gospel melodies (produced by T-Bone Burnett) that look back to Elton’s early years. His piano dominates the action – nothing too splashy, just deft solos and little vamps – and he sounds in fine voice. It’s just a shame that what he’s saying (at length: the album is almost an hour long) is so windy.

Elton John

The Diving Board

(Mercury)

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