Since his last studio album in 2013, Elton John has fashioned himself into an enthusiastic patron of contemporary pop via his Apple Music radio show, and rather than finish anything with Bernie Taupin, he’s decided instead to parlay his passion for new music into a collaborations album. Surely this is the only place where you’ll find Lil Nas X and Rina Sawayama alongside Eddie Vedder and the two Stevies, Wonder and Nicks.
The Lockdown Sessions is a many-tentacled mix that positions John as bejewelled curator, a guest on his own album – or more of a “session player”, as he puts it – looking back wistfully at his career. The disco-gospel duet with Wonder, Finish Line, and Your Song-ish Stolen Car with Nicks evoke past glories, while Chosen Family with Sawayama pulls off Gaga levels of queer anthemia. But it’s the covers that take centre stage: It’s a Sin, performed so sensationally with Olly Alexander at this year’s Brits; and Nothing Else Matters, on which John merely plays piano and Miley Cyrus delivers the best vocal performance of 2021. It’s all fun, though a little disjointed – and the less said about Elton’s trap song, Always Love You, with Nicki Minaj and Young Thug, the better.