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NEIL DIAMOND – DREAMS (Review)

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51WbNlFkVZL. SL160 I have a fear that with the continued decline of the music industry, new generations of listeners will miss out on hearing some truly great songs performed by some of music’s finest voices, and that’s a damn shame. You’d be hard-pressed to find a young audience that identifies with the music of NEIL DIAMOND, and while his legacy includes nearly four decades of  output as a performer and songwriter, it’s likely that DREAMS (out today on Columbia) will become one of his least-selling albums.

With performers like ROD STEWART milking “The Great American Songbook” on a regular basis, it would be quick to dismiss DREAMS as a nostalgic cash-in, but that’s not the case at all. Like JOHNNY CASH and GLENN CAMPBELL before him, NEIL DIAMOND has crafted an excellent album of cover tunes that pays tribute and respect to the source material (ranging from Bill Withers to The Beatles, Randy Newman, Leonard Cohen, and more),  while breaking down the arrangements and rebuilding them with purity and sincerity.

DIAMOND’s voice shines as it finds itself joined by acoustic guitar and piano through much of the album, occasionally accented by soft percussive elements.

His dramatic reimagining of his own “I’m a Believer” (of which THE MONKEES rode to fame in 1966) could easily become a hit once more, and will likely begin popping up on film soundtracks in the very near future.

There’s a lonliness to DREAMS that peaks with DIAMOND’s take on THE EAGLES’ “Desperado,” before the fairly upbeat album closer “Don’t Forget Me,” taken from the catalog of the late HARRY NILLSON wraps things up in a manner that makes you ponder if there’s a message to be received in DIAMOND’s choice of that song to end the album.

Rating: 4/5

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