In recent years, Elton has returned to his musical roots, as evident on Peachtree Road and The Union.
Now he has completed The Diving Board, which Rolling Stone says revisits the piano-bass-drums trio format heard on early recordings like the live 11-17-70.
The result, says the songster, is "the most exciting solo record I've done in a long, long time."
The album was written and recorded in a matter of weeks in Los Angeles and produced by T Bone Burnett.
"It was T Bone's idea to get back with piano, bass and drums," Elton remarks.
Backing Elton are Raphael Saadiq on bass and Jay Bellerose on drums. On two tracks, the trio is augmented by guitarist Doyle Bramhall.
Although the piano player was scheduled to start cutting a new disc, he admits he wasn't initially excited. "I was due to go back into the studio, but I didn't know whether I wanted to go back in so quickly," he says.
Even after longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin handed him a stack of lyrics, Elton wasn't sure. "I was on holiday and I didn't even look at them," he says. "But I said, 'I'll go into the studio and if it doesn't work out, it doesn't matter.'"
Elton picked the backup musicians, especially Saadiq, who played at an EJAF benefit in 2009. "I wanted to go with Raphael," he says. "He's such a great bass player and he plays all sorts of music. I love his albums."
To his surprise, Elton's creativity went into hyperspeed; he wrote six songs a day in two days, cut them in a mere four and picked 10 for the final track list.
"It just came flooding out," he says. "Quickest record I've ever made."
His enthusiasm about the project is palpable: "I'm as psyched about it as I was with The Union," he says.
The Diving Board is set for a fall release.