The only Elton album that’s solely self-produced, 2004′s Peachtree Road is strikingly casual. Named after the street on which the singer owns an Atlanta home, it’s considerably less heavy than its predecessor, 2001′s Songs from the West Coast. Instead, it offers a breezy country feeling that suggests 1970′s Tumbleweed Connection, but with lighter orchestrations and less wordplay.
Now that he’s finally holding the reigns, Elton lets them slack: “Weight of the World” alludes to the fact that he’s far happier now that the pressure of maintaining his three-decade radio-dominating streak is finally over. Even his vocals are far less fussy; in most cases, he seems to go with unpolished first takes, particularly on the brassy transsexual ode “They Call Her the Cat.” Where there was once a control-crazed superstar, there’s now a humble musician intent on simply satisfying himself and maybe his longtime fans. No classics here, but there’s plenty of low-key pleasure.