Personnel: Neil Diamond (vocals, guitar); Mike Campbell , Smokey Hormel (guitar, bass guitar); Jonny Polonsky, Matt Sweeney (guitar); Julian Hallmark, Michele Richards, Armen Garabedian (violin); Andrew Duckles (viola); Rudy Stein, Larry Corbett (cello); Dan Higgins , Steve Kujala, Robert Shulgold (flute); Ralph Williams (clarinet); Earle Dumler (oboe, English horn); Rose Corrigan (bassoon); Chuck Findley, Gary Grant (trumpet); Nathan Campbell , Joe Meyer (French horn); Steven Holtman, William Frank "Bill" Reichenbach Jr. (trombone); Doug Tornquist (tuba); Benmont Tench (keyboards); Marvin Gordy (timpani).
Audio Mixer: Dana Nielsen.
Liner Note Author: Neil Diamond.
Recording information: Akademie Mathematique Of Philosophical Research, Los An; Arch Angel Recording Studio, Los Angeles, CA; Conway Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA; Punker Pad West, Van Nuys, CA.
Photographer: Jesse Diamond.
Neil Diamond's 2005 collaboration with Rick Rubin, 12 SONGS, found the latter stripping the pop legend's work down to a sparse, acoustic-based sound, as he'd famously done for Johnny Cash in the '90s. Apparently the experience impressed Diamond enough to warrant a second go-round with the producer. HOME BEFORE DARK takes a similar sonic approach as its predecessor; on most of these songs Diamond is backed by little more than Tom Petty's Heartbreakers, Mike Campbell's acoustic guitar and Benmont Tench's piano (the pair contributed to Cash's recordings too), but in restrospect, 12 SONGS almost seems like a warm-up for this one. There's a sense of emotional nakedness here, as the 67-year-old Diamond peers deeply into the intricacies of his life, delivering penetrating insights in a highly reflective mode while never losing sight of his gifts as a master pop melody-maker. While most of the songs here are slow-to-medium ruminations on deep subjects, each one comes fully equipped with expert melodic turns that make these tunes as pleasing to the ear as they are to the mind.
Rolling Stone (p.68) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Like Johnny Cash's Rubin-produced AMERICAN RECORDINGS series, HOME BEFORE DARK cuts the music down to its essence..."
Q (Magazine) (p.110) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[H]e can still convey a tale of male insecurity and longing with just an unplugged guitar for company. The closing title track, a beautiful downbeat number, is testament alone to the benefits of less as more."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.104) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The songs are edgier, more rock -- no drums, it's Diamond's acoustic guitar providing the rhythmic thrust....Fans of dramatic Diamond are well taken care of here..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.72) - Ranked #10 in Mojo's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2008" -- "[P]owered by Diamond's acoustic guitar and intensely personal lyrics."