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Album Review: Elton John – The Lockdown Sessions

3 min read
Check out our new review of The Lockdown Sessions, the latest record from @eltonofficial

There are very few artists throughout history who have given music as much of their heart and soul as Elton John. This has been acknowledged at every level imaginable, with the Rocketman having a Royal Knighthood to his name for his outstanding contributions to music over the past 50 years. But if you thought at age 74 that Sir Elton was done, then you would be quite wrong indeed. Although his career is winding to an end, with him just about to embark on the second leg of his epic Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, the Watford hero spent his lockdown forming some of the most star-studded collaborations he has ever been a part of and given them to us in his latest album, The Lockdown Sessions.

The pandemic and the lockdown restrictions it brought along with it had a major impact on the way artists recorded their music and John has spoken out about how bizarre it was to be recording with other artists over video calls or from behind glass panels, but these inconvenient circumstances have not hindered John’s ability to make hits in the slightest, with him being at his very best in every single song on the album. John’s hitmaking expertise are no more evident than on the album’s opening track Cold Heart. In a stroke of pure genius Sir Elton decides to bring together elements of his classic tunes, most notably two of his biggest ever hits Rocketman and Sacrifice, and with pop icon Dua Lipa backing him up on vocals, and Australian house legends PNAU mixing it into a modern anthem, Cold Heart is a song the world never knew it needed, as is clear by the fact it hit number 1 in the Global Charts and is still in the Top 10, a whole 5 months after its release.

Despite being a veteran in music for so long, John has claimed that whilst making The Lockdown Sessions he found himself out of his comfort zones at many times, working with genres that he has never before delved into. However, in the best example of this, Always Love You, John still shines bright, with his hard-hitting repeated chorus verse being very reminiscent of some of his classic tracks gone by and fitting perfectly in between rap verses by Young Thug and Nicki Minaj. John’s newfound chemistry with rappers is again on display in what may be the most complete song on the album, The Pink Phantom, where John is once again given the honour of singing the chorus in between Damon Albarn and 6lack’s verses, in a hauntingly tragic track that’s presence you cannot escape from.

One of the most moving aspects of this record is seeing the dedication Sir Elton has to mentoring and paving the way for the next generation of musical icons. John makes best of his role as an elder in music’s LGBTQ+ community, by lending his heart and soul to Rina Sawayama in their beautiful duet Chosen Family, a warming, uniting song that feels especially relevant in our social climate of hate and social divide. John further supports music’s latest stars by taking the back seat on tracks including Lil Nas X’s One of Me and Miley Cyrus’ cover of Nothing Else Matters, adding his extraordinary piano skills, but primarily letting them shine.

Elton rounds off the album with a series of collaborations with some of music’s biggest names. From legendary duets with Stevie Wonder and Glen Campbell that feel like they are a nostalgic look back by all men involved on their respective careers, to E-Ticket, a glam rock slice of fun with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, and, Stolen Car, a touching track with Stevie Nicks that feels like a long-awaited sequel to Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. Elton takes us on a journey back through the last half a decade of music in tremendous fashion, showing us that he really is capable of absolutely anything when it comes to music by giving us a musical equivalent to a box of chocolates. There really is something for everybody in this record, a truly legendary assortment of tracks, by one of music’s greatest ever legends.