da Rolling Stone
Buying an Elton John album these days is like
investing in a mutual fund: You won't get a huge payoff, but you
probably won't get burned either. As with recent portfolios offered by
bankable rockers Rod Stewart and Eric Clapton, audiences buy into
John's work at this point for a familiar sense of craft, not for
stinging creativity. Which means that at the very least The One stands as the musical equivalent of comfort food.
John's thirty-third release, The One finds him reasonably
spry despite having received the music biz's approximation of a gold
watch: last year's useless tribute album, Two Rooms, plus a
terrific box set. The new album boasts some hooks sharp enough to
pierce our memory banks, from the amiable "Simple Life" to the
Philly-soul-inspired "On Dark Street."
And yet there's not a one that couldn't have been helped out by more
pointed production. As with John's releases for more than a decade,
there's so much echo on The One that emotion dissolves into
oblivion. Even a promising country honk like "Whitewash County" loses
its very real shot at recalling Tumbleweed Connection.
Not that anything else on The One has a chance to scale such heights.
"Runaway Train," (a duet with – guess who? – Eric Clapton)
from the Lethal Weapon 3
soundtrack, isn't the only number that could run during the closing
credits of some hack Hollywood film. Which is why, for all its small
joys, The One will ultimately be best remembered not for its music but
for the first-ever cover shot of Elton's hair weave.