The familiar-sounding piano that opens 'Home Again,' Elton John's first new solo music since 2006's 'The Captain & the Kid' album, instantly recalls the singer's hit material from the '70s, when he was the biggest pop star on the planet. But it's warmer and more worn-in. It's Elton John, all right. But it's Elton John 40 years later, returning to a comfort zone with history behind him.

'Home Again' is the first taste of John's upcoming album, 'The Diving Board,' which will be released in September. In 2010, John released a collaborative LP with singer-songwriter Leon Russell, 'The Union.' His last solo record, 'The Captain & the Kid,' was a sequel of sorts to 1975's autobiographical 'Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy,' chronicling his relationship with songwriter Bernie Taupin. 'The Diving Board' will mostly fall into place with the 2006 record, complete with lyrics penned by longtime partner Taupin.

The first single certainly points in that direction. Musically, the ballad doesn't sound all that different than many of the slower-tempo songs John has released since that 'Lion King' hit almost 20 years ago. Starting spare with just a piano, 'Home Again' builds with strings, a lush arrangement and big percussion blasts before coming full circle at the end, closing with the same piano notes that open the song.

Lyrically, John is in a reflective mood, looking back: "I'm counting on the memories to get me out of here," he sings in the song's opening line. By the time he gets around to the chorus -- "We all dream of leaving but wind up in the end spending all of our time trying to get back home again" -- 'Home Again' isn't so much about returning to a place to stay there, but returning to find inspiration.

As a single, the song is pretty much on par with John's best material over the past decade or so, which means it's somewhat forgettable. But within the context of 'The Diving Board,' 'Home Again,' thematically at least, could turn out to be the album's anchor.