As a result I've started listening to a lot more Neil Diamond. While I do enjoy some of his music from the late 70's and 80's, it never appealed to me as much as songs from his earlier career. For this reason I was hesitant to try out his newest release 12 Songs. (To be honest, I'm thankful for this hesitancy. I don't think I would've appreciated it and enjoyed it if I had heard it 2 years ago when it came out.) I like 12 Songs so much because, like it's title, it's so simple and honest. Just an old man and his guitar. It seems that much of songwriting in popular music today is very impersonal. If a song is written to sell, how likely is it that the artist actually experienced what they are singing about? Pretty slim. (How likely is it that the artist actually even wrote the song? Even slimmer.) Sure, the artist can relate to the song he or she is singing, but it doesn't go any farther than that. 12 Songs is such a convincing album because the songwriting is so genuine and the production is so simple; you get the feeling Neil has actually experienced what he's singing about. In fact, he very well may be in the same room singing it to you.
The bottom line: 12 Songs is an amazing record because it is Neil Diamond.