No matter how old and grey Neil Diamond grows, how many cheesy duets he sings with Streisand or how many massive crowds he entertains on the casino circuit, he will forever be that endearingly nerdy mensch strumming songs around the fire at summer camp. 12 Songs proves this with a set of humble, heartfelt tunes that are the best Diamond's written in decades - and arguably, some of the finest gems of his career. Thoughtfully produced by Rick Rubin (who masterminded Johnny Cash's triumphant comeback a few years back), the titular 12 songs (there are two bonus tracks on the Canadian version) eschew campy excess, building on simple repeated acoustic guitar and piano motifs with occasional flourishes of tasteful string and horn arrangements courtesy of Beck's dad, David Campbell. It doesn't hurt that Rubin enlists top-notch LA session hands, plundering Beck's band and Tom Petty's Heartbreakers. Diamond is plainspoken and affecting throughout, whether murmuring huskily over doo-wop chords and glockenspiel on the chaste love song Save Me A Saturday Night, making whoopee on the Sweet Caroline-ish Delirious Love or finding solace in song on the sweetly sombre Man Of God. Classic.