Feel-Good Ballads and Renowned Vocals Make for a ‘Wonderful Crazy Night’

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 13: Elton John performed songs from his new album Wonderful Crazy Night out February 5, as well as classic hits, on January 13th at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Island Records/AFP

3 Stars

Wonderful Crazy Night, Elton John’s 32nd album, closely resembles the rest of the British megastar’s work. His long-time collaborator, lyricist Bernie Taupin, helped John make an album that fully showcases his style. After over 30 albums, the legendary team is at it again with sure-to-be hits like “Wonderful Crazy Night” and “Looking Up.”

Rock and roll mixed with light and feel-good tracks propel one groove into another. John delivers his unique style, musicianship, and vocal quality with its timeless sound for true believers in old-school pop music.

John hooks listeners from the beginning of the record with his opening track “Wonderful Crazy Night.” It is a pulsing showcase for his bluesy keyboard and legendary vocals. The catchy tune is bound to have the listener smiling by the end. This track sends us on a journey into a soulful, retro setting. The next stop, entitled “In The Name of You,” slows things down a bit and is reminiscent of Elton’s storybook lyrical tunes. A soulful organist punctuates each section, urging you to lean in closer to catch every word. Guitar solos and an upbeat bridge keep your foot tapping to the end.

“Claw Hammer,” a mysterious and intriguing piece with evocative lyrical pictures, takes the listener to a new world. With more of a balladeer’s perspective, it sends you on a journey into a spacey western world. Instrumental solos hypnotize the ending of this song as horns, piano, and other sounds mingle, bringing the song to a close. “Blue Wonderful” could be a seaman’s song as he travels the oceans far away from the one he loves. The tone is melancholy, yet energetic, with a reminiscent spirit seeping through every chorus. The background piano perfectly complements each lyric.


 


Accordions, acoustic guitars, and a snare drum are all it takes to describe “I’ve Got 2 Wings.” Hearing it, you might think of an old Cat Stevens record or some other folk rock artist. John channels this ’70s genre better than anyone, and this particular number hits the mark.

If you are waiting for a ballad, it’s arrived at “A Good Heart.” It’s just John with a harpsichord, lyrics about keeping the light of an old flame going, and the airiness of his vocals. This evocative tune is sober, but beautiful.

“Looking Up” is probably the hit song of this collection. It’s a lot of fun and a little funky for a rock and roll album. All of a sudden, you’re back in an Elton John album from the ’70s and ’80s. The classic sound of John’s band is bound to turn heads and get fans’ attention.

“Guilty Pleasure” may be guilty of something other than pleasure. Not only does it let the listener down hard from the prior track but it also seems out of place in this otherwise characteristic Elton John effort. Somehow, Elton is able to breathe life into an otherwise lackluster piece and keep you listening. “The Open Chord” is similar to “Guilty Pleasure” in its disappointing quality. Without Elton John’s renowned vocals, the piece seems like it would fall flat.

The album takes a turn for the slower with “Free and Easy.” This track has a comfortable steadiness to it that will keep listeners happy. The album ends with a bang, similar to how it started with “England and America.” This catchy tune is bound to leave the listener singing along to the thumping drums and strumming guitar.

This album fits in with the rest of the iconic work of Elton John. It does not represent some huge revolution in the pop star’s musical taste or tendencies, but it is sure to leave fans pleased with another collection of feel-good ballads.

Featured Image By Mercury Records