Picks and Pans Review: Elton John

updated 11/15/2004 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/15/2004 01:00AM

Peachtree Road

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"Fortune and fame is so fleeting/These days I'm happy to say/I'm amazed that I'm still around," sings Sir Elton John on "The Weight of the World," the leadoff track on his new disc. Indeed, it is amazing that after 35 years, 43 albums and thousands of pairs of glasses, Captain Fantastic is still standing. After getting the has-been monkey off his back with 2001's resurgent Songs from the West Coast, which reunited him with longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin, John, 57, continues to enjoy his artistic renaissance here, sounding "happy today, happy to play," as he sings on "Weight." Peachtree Road—which takes its title from a street in Atlanta, where the British piano man recorded this CD and has a home—plays like Songs from the Southern Belt. Once again teamed with Taupin, John references southern locales from Jacksonville, Fla., to Tupelo, Miss. (on the gospel-tinged "Porch Swing in Tupelo"). And he brings a real down-home flavor to tunes like "Turn the Lights Out When You Leave," a break-up ballad with a classic country motif. Meanwhile, "They Call Her the Cat" is a honky-tonker in the spirit of John's 1972 hit "Honky Cat." —C.A.

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