Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ gets a modern update courtesy of The Band Perry, Hunter Hayes — Album Review

EJ_Std Sleeve PS_300dpi_rgb (3) (1)

Every working musician today owes their career to Elton John, the consummate piano man. He's defined pop music in ways that can still be heard today, especially through such artists as Ed Sheeran and Sara Bareilles. Not only has he influenced Top 40, but he shook rock-n-roll and country music to the core, setting the bar high for generations to come. So, it's no wonder that on the newly re-released Goodbye Yellow Brick Road many of today's superstar artists (from all genres of life) have come together to deliver a remarkable project, celebrating its 40th anniversary and Sir Elton's birthday!

From Hunter Hayes and The Band Perry to Miguel and Wale, every style of music is represented on this must-have deluxe box set.

Hayes, especially, is exceptional on the title track, spinning his perfectly structured pop-country into a believable story. His voice runs into the clouds, as he smoothly lilts into his falsetto and flutters back down to earth. Along the way, he powers through his chest voice with ease. There is nothing forced in Hayes' interpretation. In fact, this could easily fit among his growing catalog, somewhere between his smash hit "Wanted" and his current empowering anthem "Invisible."

The Band Perry, similarly, offers up a healthy, arena-sized version of "Grey Seal," bluegrass-inspired intro included. Kimberly's gritty voice is made for songs like this, as evindenced by their own work on such tracks as "Better Dig Two" and "DONE.," both supple undertakings have clearly lit the fuse of their creative angst. That added layer of folk amplifies the track to the stratosphere. Sir Elton would be proud.

The only other country-focused artist is Zac Brown Band, who dishes up a lusciouly cool, spine-tingling version of "Harmony." We couldn't imagine another group taking this one on (other than Little Big Town, of course), as their harmonies fit tightly together, driven by a rather simple arrangement. Their voices tell the story. Tributes can often come across as amateur, but that is simply not the case here.

Elsewhere, British UK star Sheeran ("Candle In The Wind"), Miguel with Wale ("Bennie and the Jets"), Emeli Sande ("All The Girls Love Alice"), alternative rocker John Grant ('Sweet Painted Lady"), Fall Out Boy ("Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting") and Irish chanteuse Imelda May ("Your Sister Can't Twist But She Can Rock-n-Roll") appear, mostly to incredible results. Each artist takes sincere creative freedm with the arrangements and melodies, not straying too far from what worked in the original, but gives fans enough to sink their ears into. It neither stales nor pales in comparison.

Overall Grade: A-

Also included in this 40th anniversay box edition are remasters of the original tracks, DVD features, interviews and more!

Grab a copy of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road on iTunes now!


Enjoy this review? Feel free to email me to keep the conversation going!