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Album review: Neil Diamond strolls tuneful ‘Melody Road’

PLAY ME: Neil Diamond celebrates new marriage, the joy of song craft on ‘Melody Road’ album.
PLAY ME: Neil Diamond celebrates new marriage, the joy of song craft on ‘Melody Road’ album. Capitol

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Neil Diamond, Melody Road (Capitol)

At 73, Neil Diamond is among the rarefied few songwriting legends — Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Elton John — who can still craft late-career work that echoes, and sometimes approaches, the classics of their youth.

Diamond, in all his Neil-ness here, works with producers Don Was (Bonnie Raitt) and Jackknife Lee (R.E.M.) to bring back the light strings, drums, catchy hooks and horn section that buoyed early ’70s albums like Moods and Serenade.

Most of the recently married Diamond’s new songs are about love and the joy that can come from songcraft. But some of Melody Road’s best moments are its most melancholic: (OOO) Do I Wanna Be Yours, written in minor keys so that it feels more like a measured consideration, and darker mood pieces like Nothing But a Heartache and Alone at the Ball.

“Melody from the heart, melody from the start/Telling me ‘Things will be OK,’/I think I just might stay on Melody Road,” Diamond sings in his strong baritone on the jaunty title track — a good plan.

Download: Nothing But a Heartache, Alone at the Ball, (OOO) Do I Wanna Be Yours.

Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.

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