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Neil Diamond says new disc goes ‘deeper’

From the Associated Press

Neil Diamond, who is releasing a new album next month and embarking on a new tour this summer, says both projects mark the best -- and hardest work -- of his career.

“This is the most technically challenging show that I’ve ever done,” Diamond said in an interview this week. His U.S. tour kicks off July 19 in St. Paul, Minn., and is scheduled to end Oct. 30 in Jacksonville, Fla. It includes performances at the Hollywood Bowl on Oct. 1 and 2 and at the San Diego Sports Arena on Oct. 7.

As for the album -- “Home Before Dark,” due out May 6 -- Diamond said: “This record represents a giant step in my evolution as a writer and a recording artist. . . . You will see I’ve gone deeper. It was more painful to write this -- maybe the most difficult album I’ve ever written, and maybe my best.”

For “Home Before Dark,” the music legend reunited with Grammy-winning producer Rick Rubin, who was at the helm of his critically acclaimed 2005 CD, “12 Songs.” Diamond, 67, said he felt more confident recording the new disc -- but not because of its predecessor’s good reviews.

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“Critical acclaim is always helpful, any kind of encouragement for an artist is helpful, but my music is going to be written or recorded with or without critical acclaim,” he said. “I appreciate it when it comes, but it will not stop me for a moment when I don’t get it. It’s unpredictable.”

Instead, it was the growing relationship between Rubin and Diamond that provided the boost.

“That first ’12 Songs’ album was more of a testing of the waters and a ‘getting to know you’ album,” he said. “This one is ‘we know each other and respect each other and let’s try and knock people’s socks off,’ and that’s what we went for, and that’s what we [did].”

Diamond plans to debut several songs from the CD on his tour, but he also promises plenty of his classic hits, which include “Sweet Caroline,” “Love on the Rocks,” “Solitary Man,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Heart light,” “September Morn” and “America.”

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