“The Lockdown Sessions” - Elton John Album Review

Story posted October 29, 2021 in

Elton John released his collaboration album ‘The Lockdown Sessions’. This album contains 16 star-studded tracks with over 20 A-List and rising musicians.

After his tour was shut down in 2020, due to the pandemic, rather than taking a complete break from music, John turned to Zoom–with the rest of the world–to connect with other artists.

John took part in a series of studio sessions with artists from different genres. He had his first video-chat music creation experience over Zoom when he played the piano for Surfaces.

After returning to England he had sessions with Gorillaz, Miley Cyrus, Lil Nas X and other artists who appear on the album.

On each track, John’s traditional style of music was synthesized with the style of various artists he worked with. These genres include disco, hip-hop, country and gospel, giving music lovers across the board at least one tune to satisfy their musical taste.

The first couple of tracks in ‘The Lockdown Sessions’ feature artists who had chart-topping hits on the Billboard Hot 100 hits in recent years.

Toward the end of the album, listeners encounter tracks that feature other American music legends including Stevie Wonder, Stevie Nicks and Glenn Campbell. 

“Cold Heart (PNAU Remix)” is his UK No.1 disco-style collaboration with Dua Lipa that starts the album. It came out in mid-August making it one of the first singles to be released.

In its chorus, it features the first few lines from John’s “Rocket Man”, when Lipa sings “And I think it's gonna be a long, long time, 'Til touchdown brings me round again to find, I'm not the man they think I am at home, Oh, no, no, no.”

This track sets the proper tone for the rest of the album, as it fuses one of the most unexpected genres with John’s traditional style of music.

“Orbit” featuring English producer-songwriter, SG Lewis, is the second disco track that appears on the album. This track takes listeners on a blast to the past, back to the lights, afros and rollerskating of the disco scene in the 1970s.

At first glance, a collaboration between John, Young Thug, and Nicki Minaj appears to be an unconventional mix. “Always Love You” seamlessly puts together John’s signature piano style and today’s hip-hop, which is the genre crossover no one anticipated, but was sorely needed.

In Young Thug’s feature around the 1:20 mark of the song, there is a 3-part background instrumental that uses a bass-line, piano melody, and a drumbeat loop that brings pure, musical goodness to the ear of all listeners. 

The first 15 seconds of the “Stolen Car,” brings to mind John’s 1973 ballad “Your Song” at a brisk tempo. Beyond the title, this song makes for a perfect addition to a road trip playlist.

“Simple Things” and “Beauty in the Bones” are both tracks that cater toward fans of country music as they contain features–respectively–by country singers Brandi Carlisle and Jimmie Allen.

Not only do these songs share elements of country music, but they share lessons learned throughout life. “Simple Things” includes the lyrics, “Not what you want, But what you need,” and “Beauty in the Bones” explains how there is beauty even in the darkest moments throughout life.

The third to last song in the album gives listeners a hint of gospel and soul. “Finish Line” is a powerhouse music legend collaboration between John and Stevie Wonder. Two very prominent features in the background were the vocals from the gospel choir and the harmonica solo.

An album crossover that appears in ‘The Lockdown Sessions’ is his collaboration with Lil Nas X, “One of Me”. Unlike all the other tracks in this album, John’s vocals are not recorded in this one, however, his presence is made very explicitly through the piano solo.

Without even knowing that he was a part of the production of this song, frequent listeners of John will be able to hear his presence in the song on the first listen.

John’s signature style has a sound that can hardly be mistaken for the work of someone else.

The remaining tracks in the album contain features from Miley Cyrus, 6LACK, Years & Years, Yo-Yo- Ma, and several other artists, each varying in genre.

A listener who enjoys John’s style of music may find they are inclined to the genres they may not listen to often, as they can all hear the special touch John has in every piece of music he works on.

Each track on this album was an experiment testing for the outcome blending of different genres and John’s musicality. Each song did this successfully, and the favorability of each song in this album may vary by listener depending on the music preference of each individual.

Altogether, the pandemic production of ‘The Lockdown Sessions’ was something that the music world can embrace across the board.

Rating: 10/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Song: “Always Love You” & “

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Song: “It’s a Sin - Global Reach Remix”

Abigail Chachoute is a first-year majoring in journalism. To contact her, email axc6070@psu.edu.