Following the back-to-the-beginning sound of 2006's '12 Songs', the question was whether Neil Diamond's collaboration with producer Rick Rubin would be a one-off; two years later they're together again and sounding like they'll be that way for a few years yet.

The set-up remains the same: no big arrangements, just low-key, acoustic songs with Diamond wandering through relationships failed and fulfilled - making the same connection with the listener from either.

If you enjoyed '12 Songs' there'll be nothing here you won't. Opener 'If I Don't See You Again' is the album's masterpiece, and an instant one at that - others take longer to appreciate.

Throughout Diamond sounds like one of those rare-getting-rarer talents for whom age should hold neither fear nor embarrassment. And at its best 'Home Before Dark' recalls the words of Browning: "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be."

Harry Guerin