Elton John's second album was his first to be released in the U.S., and the difference between it and its predecessor, EMPTY SKY, is palpable and immediate. ELTON JOHN opens with "Your Song," a halting ballad that is one of the most moving love songs in the modern pop canon. The album also marks John's fruitful association with Gus Dudgeon and arranger Paul Buckmaster (who'd previously collaborated on David Bowie's "Space Oddity"). The team came up with a spare orchestral sound that surrounds the singer and his piano with dashes of both classical and rock guitar, synthesizers, carefully arranged drums, and searing strings.
This wasn't all-out pop yet, but rather a striking and singular brand of folk-rock. "Take Me To The Pilot" shows flashes of John's rocking future ("Bennie And The Jets" descended from it), "No Shoe Strings On Louise" is Rolling Stonesy country-rock, and "Sixty Years On" is haunting and memorable. More typical for this session is "I Need You To Turn To," another love song that finds lyricist Bernie Taupin in an unusually direct mode, and features a beautiful harpsichord melody from John. ELTON JOHN cast the mold for the singer's future superstardom.