Amy Ryan
November 02, 2005 AT 07:01 PM EST

Neil Diamond: He’s not just for middle-aged women and Gen-X ironists anymore. 12 Songs, his new album, is mostly acoustic balladry in the same haunted, austere atmosphere producer Rick Rubin gave to Johnny Cash’s last CDs. Aside from the I-did-it-my-way sentiment of ”Hell Yeah,” it’s not an old man’s album, just more of the same from a guy who’s been writing effortlessly sad pop songs for 40 years. (By the way, my math skills are rusty, but I counted 14 songs, including a bonus track, a second version of ”Delirious Love” that’s a pretty wonderful duet with Brian Wilson.) In anticipation of the Nov. 8 release date, Columbia is streaming the whole disc at MySpace, another sign that someone knows what they’re doing here.

addCredit(“Neil Diamond: Kathy Willens/AP”)

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