in brief : diamond in the rough.
this is the second time in his career that neil diamond has sought out respect. almost thirty years ago, he recorded beautiful noise w/ robbie robertson, and w/ this new record, he goes the cash route and makes a record w/ rick rubin.
actually, it's more truthful to say that respect, embodied by the figure of rubin, sought him out: apparently, this is a dream project for rubin. listening to 12 songs, one realizes that rubin has a v. particular diamond in mind, viz. the neil of the bang recordings. if beautiful noise was a recreation of that era, 12 songs is a reclamation. there is not one wasted note on the record and it's been shorn of any extraneous elements.
12 songs is also a reclamation of diamond himself. when he worked w/ cash, rubin merely dusted a bit of the gray off, allowing a new generation of listeners to see the man in black in full. cash will remain a totem of cool; diamond, on the other hand, is a totem of kitsch, but the lapidary work rubin has done here has the desired effect. that said, it'll be interesting to see how the "fans," whoever they are, will react. "delirious love" is a bit like "cracklin' rosie," but in leather boots and played w/ tomcat ferocity. it's a song to enjoy b/c you enjoy it, not b/c of how it will sound in an early-am bar or onstage bedecked w/ sequins. it is, in effect, your mother's neil diamond album--and you should probably listen to your mother.