For his 30th album release, Elton John has completed a collaboration with Leon Russell in The Union.

A legendary British singer-songwriter, John’s disc is his first studio release since 1979 without any of his band members. This much-anticipated rock piece features 14 tunes total and marks the first time the celebrated musicians have worked together in 40 years.

Although both John and Russell – a singer-songwriter, pianist and guitarist from Oklahoma – co-wrote most of the songs from The Union, there are also several guests involved. These include Brian Wilson, Booker T, Don Was and Bono.

“If It Wasn’t For Bad” is first track in the album, and it sets the tone for the entire CD. John’s distinguishable piano prowess and Russell’s unique vocal tone make this a perfect beginning. This tune is absolutely beautiful.

With “Hey Ahab,” we witness an upbeat, yet intense, speedy version of rock different from what’s typical of John. Believe it or not, this particular melody instills confidence naturally.

Every song, from “Jimmie Rodgers’ Dream” (country) to “The Best Part of the Day” (romantic ballad), is great for the ears. In fact, every tune on the CD is marvelous from beginning to end. The Union is a must-have album.

Grade: A

The Union is currently available.