Album: Elvis Costello, Secret, Profane & Sugarcane (Hear Music)
Friday 29 May 2009
Elvis Costello albums seem to arrive with increasing frequency these days, their diversity appearing more like compensation for their patchiness.
If you didn't like him singing with a string quartet, maybe you'd care for him in a jazz suite? No? How about collaborations with Burt Bacharach? Allen Toussaint? Anne Sophie von Otter? Or, as here, hooking up with T-Bone Burnette for some of those rootsy string-band settings that proved popular for Plant & Krauss? Though far from the most daunting prospect in his sprawling catalogue, this proves no better in practice, partly because Costello's voice has a mean-spirited tone devoid of the siren lure of Plant & Krauss's harmonies, and it's a rag-bag of material that simply doesn't hang together. There's a bluegrass cover of "Complicated Shadows", from 1996's All This Useless Beauty; a fast string-band shuffle of "Hidden Shame", written for Johnny Cash; several tedious, self-pitying romantic country pastiches, one ("I Felt The Chill") co-written with Loretta Lynn; and four tracks written for an abortive opera project about Hans Christian Andersen's love affair with singer Jenny Lind. But it's a shoddy set of barrel-scrapings overall, lacking both focus and impetus.
Download this: 'Red Cotton', 'The Crooked Line'
Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigourfilm
Bannatyne leaves Dragon's DenTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 World Cup 2014: 20 things we learned in Brazil
- 2 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 3 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 World Cup 2014: Robin van Persie gives his bronze medal to eccentric Netherlands fan moments after being handed it by Sepp Blatter
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’