The Road To El Dorado

The opening number of Elton John's latest soundtrack for an animated flick begins, "Our glorious city/Was built by the divinities, by gods." Somehow, Captain Fantastic manages to turn the plot-point lyrics of The Road to El Dorado into melt-in-your-mouth pop confections. El Dorado represents a re-teaming of John (who's acquired his own city of gold over the years) with his Lion King homeboys, lyricist Tim Rice and composer Hans Zimmer. There's a lively duet between Sir Elton and Randy Newman — twin deities of cinematic tot rock — on the sly "It's Tough to Be a God." Another standout is the stately, world-weary love song "Without Question," which features peaceful, easy harmonies. Those who prefer Elton in his Stonesy "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" mode should check out "Sixteenth-Century Man." A few songs here feel a little by-the-numbers or vaguely familiar — the lovely first single "Someday Out of the Blue (Theme From El Dorado)" reminds this lifelong Eltonhead of "Return to Paradise" from 1978's A Single Man — but familiarity doesn't always breed contempt. There's too much plot exposition on this road to make anyone forget Elton's best work, but The Road to El Dorado represents further proof that master craftsmanship goes a long way. It's still not time to shoot this piano player.