Leon Russell's third album marked a change in direction. His first two releases were a sort of high-spirited revue, with numerous players and gospel-influenced backup singers. Where his self-titled debut and its follow-up (AND THE SHELTER PEOPLE) wedded blues, r&b, rock & roll, country and other genres, CARNEY is a pared-down setting of equally well-endowed songs that make their mark in a much quieter manner. Russell's first two albums had been veritable celebrations, but CARNEY sounds more introspective. Some of Russell's most loved songs made their first appearance here, including the often-covered "Tight Rope" and "This Masquerade." Russell stayed introspective on his subsequent release WILL O' THE WISP, but CARNEY remains one of his very finest efforts. The gorgeous songs and subtle arrangements make for a wonderfully sustained album experience.
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- The Union (John, Elton)