Picks and Pans Review: On the Way to the Sky

updated 01/25/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/25/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

Neil Diamond

While he may never provide, like Gershwin or Berlin, that artistic gust that sweeps music lovers off their feet, Diamond at 40 remains a capable craftsman. What seems to hold him back is a tension between his desire to be accepted by hip rock urbanites and his knack for fashioning melodies that are best suited for suburban daydreamers. There is rarely a happy accident or breath of spontaneity. When Diamond sings his nostalgic paean Yesterday's Songs, or tries something fashionable like a discoish Only You, he seems about as plugged-in as an octogenarian spinster. His lyrics rarely surpass the level of greeting-card sentiment and are sometimes nonsensical, such as in Save Me: "There's a lot I can stand/ But not a lot I can take." For all that, though, many of Diamond's tunes are irresistible. On the Way to the Sky is a grand song, Guitar Heaven is a genuine toe tapper, and his poignant baritone on Love Burns is bound to raise the temperature of more than a few of his female admirers.

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