On 'National Ransom' it's clear were still held by Costello music.
Mr. Costello has come a long way from the British 'Pub Rock' scene and being 'the other Elvis'. For more than 3 decades and 30 albums Elvis Costello has brought hit after hit, even penning some great songs for others including his Canadian, jazz singing talent, wife Diana Krall. Now with his third album in as many years Elvis looks to hold our attention once more with 'National Ransom'.
This versatile, something for everyone album pays off too. The title track and main attraction 'National Ransom' starts off this album. The upbeat number sounds a lot like Costello's early work with his group The Attractions. From the first note Costello fans from the start will be brought in and felt welcome.
Producer T Bone Burnett has-as usual-been busy this year. The legendary producer gave Jakob Dylan a more country, American rooted edge for his acclaimed album 'Women & Country' this year and now he joins Costello again following last years 'Secret, Profane & Sugarcane'. On this album T Bone grows the British singer more American roots. Especially with the slow number 'Jimmie Standing in the Rain' which could be played in a down south bar. A far cry away from that 'pub rock' scene .
Liverpool's greatest musical export bar a fab four comes funky and deep with 'Stations Of The Cross' proving he's come a long way from Lime Street. Elvis Costello's distinct, diverse vocals have always allowed him to deviate between timeless, slow ballads ('She') and uptempo classics ('Pump It Up') and after adopting the vocal styling of his earlier work he returns to 'her' on 'A Slow Drag With Josephine' . A slow burner that really draws you in with each tote.
On 'Church Underground' that raw Costello attitude that made him so big in his youth is still apparent. As are his scathing, on point social commentaries with lyrics including, "Deflowered young and then ever since/She's tried to wash off his fingerprints/So every charlatan and prince/Was made to feel inferior". If that's too much to take then the following track 'You Hung The Moon' rises and lights up next to the most beautiful songs in Costello's deeper, more delightful discography.
Costello slows it down even further with the acoustic, sombre 'Bullets For The New-Born King' so we can really hear. Listening to a polite but potently powerful number. On 'Dr. Watson, I Presume' Elvis investigates and detects more of those bluegrass American roots but does he pull it off? No S*** Sherlock! As he turns up the tempo on 'The Spell That You Cast' Elvis furthers this notion with a magic, entrancing number showing that this Brit's North American adoption is no trick.
At 16 tracks long and with a bonus digital EP 'National Ransack' Costello's latest output is rich. Still, however his versatile, diverse album does not leave him a poor man. Elvis Costello has often gone out his comfort zone to walk through different genres but he's always wore the right shoes. Even this album is more different than the rest but still because of it's diversity and realised range it's still classic Costello. TIM DAVID HARVEY.