Songs From the West Coast
At once a throwback and a move forward, Songs From the West Coast reunites Elton John with lyricist Bernie Taupin and hooks him up with vocalists ranging from Stevie Wonder to Rufus Wainwright. If the opener, ”The Emperor’s New Clothes,” reminds old fans of 1970’s ”Your Song,” it’s supposed to: Its stark piano-and-vocal arrangement (deployed frequently throughout the CD) is there to prove John’s undimmed vocal power. As usual, Taupin’s lyrics are cluttered and clichéd — John has always used them as strings of metered syllables to hang his emotions on. This is problematic when Taupin has an actual subject to address, such as homophobia in ”American Triangle,” but liberating for Elton elsewhere: This is his most nuanced, openhearted, and headlong collection in years.