The COVID-19 lockdown was an interesting experience,, with many turning to baking bread and binging shows to pass the time. Sir Elton John, like most of us, spent his time watching popular shows, however, unlike most of us, he recorded a new collaborative album. Released Oct. 2021, it features numerous pop stars displaying their talents alongside John. While none of the songs are likely to become classics, they are nonetheless a testament to the pop music prowess of John.
The album kicks off with “Cold Heart,” a fun song with Dua Lipa and PNAU that poaches the chorus to “Rocket Man.” “After All” with Charlie Puth is a fun, catchy and anthemic song that displays John’s more mature and deep voice, proving that some voices age like fine wine. One of the album’s undisputed standouts is “Chosen Family,” which touches on close friendship and familial bonds regardless of blood ties. The song features Rina Sawayama, whose voice bears an uncanny resemblance to Lady Gaga’s. It is an incredible song and a highlight of the album.
The album also includes Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters.” Miley Cyrus appears on the track and excels, and although the riff is strange to hear synthesizers play, it is a good cover. In “Simple Things,” a country-inspired duet with Brandi Carlile. A stellar vocal performance by Eddie Vedder meshes well with John’s vocals, and while they sound good, it is barely enough to salvage an otherwise unremarkable song. Arguably, the album’s best song is “Finish Line,” a duet with Stevie Wonder that draws masterfully on Wonder’s soul and gospel roots. They are joined by an angelic choir that elevates the song to new heights, creating a truly beautiful song.
“The Lockdown Sessions” is a good album, but one that is unlikely to be considered one of John’s greatest. It is notable for its wide variety of modern pop talent, and the feat of stringing together a record during a pandemic. Although there are some incredible performances and great songs, there are numerous that are incredibly forgettable. Moreover, the album feels more like a collection of wannabe singles crammed together to make an album rather than a definitive album with a coherent message or theme. Still, the album shows that John not only still has the clout to bring in young pop acts but has the chops to outshine them.