If there's any silver lining to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, it has at least turned the spotlight back on New Orleans' unrivalled musical heritage, with benefit albums and new releases from Dr John and Irma Thomas joined by this collaboration between the city's top composer/ producer/pianist Allen Toussaint and his avid fan Elvis Costello. Whether remaking old Toussaint gems such as "On the Way Down" and "Freedom for the Stallion", or premiering sharp new songs such as the damning "Broken Promise Land" and "River in Reverse" ("I don't see how it can get much worse/ What can we do to send the river in reverse?"), both parties attack the material with gusto and aptitude, while producer Joe Henry effects a cleverly updated version of the classic Toussaint arrangement style, with infectious rhythms and fruity horns adding their own piquant commentary to the narratives. Most impressive is the exultant "International Echo", a celebration of how the togetherness inculcated by youthful exposure to rock'n'roll bridges continents and cultures.
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