Since when does an artist who has been toiling away in the industry for 5 decades challenge his entire catalog by releasing what may be the two strongest albums in his illustrious career? As good as 12 Songs is, it’s possible that Home Before Dark may even surpass its achievements. Whether it does so will depend on whether 12 Songs was too stark, too stripped-down, for the listener. Without moving remotely close to the bombast of the 80s, Diamond and Rubin have filled out the sound Home Before Dark with more instrumentation, which may please those for whom 12 Songs was too intimate.
Not for this listener. 12 Songs and Home Before Dark both showcase Diamond’s greatest asset: his ability as a songwriter, and in both cases we are presented with the most solid, accomplished cycle of songs since the period that gave us ˝Moods˝ and ˝Stones.˝
Home Before Dark is a towering achievement, possibly even moreso than 12 Songs, as it shows without a doubt that 12 Songs was no fluke. Neil Diamond may be no spring chicken but he’s at the height of his power as an artist. I guarantee you that if you ever loved Neil in the past, this album will remind you of everything you loved him for. It’s truly stunning.