Elton John's last couple of studio albums have been largely stripped-down affairs, but it looks like he might be ready to move in a more modern direction.

In an Instagram photo posted earlier this week, John revealed he's been in the studio working with some younger collaborators — including songwriter and producer Jimmy Napes, whose credits include tracks on Sam Smith's multi-platinum In the Lonely Hour, and Clean Bandit frontman Jack Patterson, whose band took home a Grammy this year for its hit single "Rather Be."

"I love it when friendship springs from artistic collaboration," wrote John in the photo caption. "Jack Patterson with Clean Bandit and I have just been writing in the studio with Jimmy Napes. Jack is a lovely guy and we had fun catching up over lunch."

According to Clean Bandit cellist Grace Chatto, the seeds for the collaboration were planted last spring, when the band cleaned up at the Ivor Novello awards and met with John at the ceremony. "Elton John sang some of ‘Rather Be’ to me, which was amazing," she recalled. "I wouldn’t say he’s an obsessive fan, but he said he really likes the music and yeah, that was really exciting."

It remains to be seen where these new songs fit with John's upcoming release schedule, which reportedly includes another new LP with producer T Bone Burnett, who helmed 2010's The Union as well as 2013's The Diving Board. Burnett teased their next effort during an August interview with Billboard, hinting that the record — which he said was already finished — would showcase John's more uptempo side.

"It’s a very upbeat rock ‘n’ roll record," said Burnett. "The last album was a particular group of very personal material; this is broadcasting. That one was a parlor record; this is a festival."

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