It was not even two years ago that Elton John released ‘The Union,’ his album-length collaboration with Leon Russell — and it was mere weeks ago that Cameron Crowe’s documentary about the making of the album premiered on HBO. But Elton is nothing if not prolific, and he’s already prepping his next release.
Titled ‘The Diving Board,’ the album reunites John with ‘Union’ producer T Bone Burnett for a deliberately stripped-back collection that’s being described as a return to his earliest recordings. In fact, on Burnett’s suggestion, the bulk of the sessions were recorded with a bare-bones trio composed of John, Raphael Saadiq on bass, and Jay Bellerose on drums. “It was T Bone’s idea to get back with piano, bass and drums,” John told Rolling Stone. “He said, ‘Let’s start with that.’”
John admitted that even though he felt like he “was due” to re-enter the studio, he was initially reluctant to start a new project, even going so far as to ignore a stack of new lyrics from his longtime writing partner Bernie Taupin. “I was on holiday and I didn’t even look at them,” he recalled. “But I said, ‘I’ll go into the studio and if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t matter.’”
Once the sessions started, John found a torrent of new music waiting to come out, writing a dozen songs in two days and cutting them in four. “It just came flooding out,” he reported. “Quickest record I’ve ever made.” It’s also, in John’s words, “the most exciting solo record I’ve done in a long, long time.
“I’m as psyched about it as I was with ‘The Union,’” he continued. “As I said with ‘The Union,’ I had to go back to go forward, and it’s the same with this record.”