Review of North
Jazz Times, 2003-09-25
- Christopher Porter
Elvis Costello Goes North
Written By: Christopher Porter
Elvis Costello loves Diana Krall. He also loves the same music as
Diana Krall, which explains why Costello’s new CD, North (Deutsche
Grammophon), is heavy on the torchy piano ballads.
The man who came up with punk rock is now “one of the world’s
premier adult music artists,” as Universal’s Web site unapologetically
states. North features Costello’s usual pianist, Steve Nieve from
the Attractions, as well as jazzers Peter Erskine on drums and Mike
Formanek on double bass. In addition to writing the album entirely on
piano (of which, Costello admits, he’s not the best player), the
majority of North is sung in the former ranter’s baritone register
(with plenty of vibrato, natch). The music, also arranged and conducted
by Costello, sometimes features a 48-piece ensemble, composed of a rhythm
section, horn nonet and 28 string players.
Costello’s songs on North are unrelentingly slow and balladic,
but they all aren’t romantic paeans to Krall; some obviously deal
with his breakup of his second marriage, to former Pogues bassist Cait
O'Riordan. (Have fun picking out the love songs from the heartbreakers!)
Our own Christopher Loudon compares North to Frank Sinatra’s 1954
classic weeper In the Wee Small Hours. That’s high praise, indeed.
For the “Still” video and the audio stream of “Fallen,”
both from North, click here.
For more news and Costello’s official site (and, if you’ve
bought the CD, to download the not-on-the-disc title track to North),
go to www.elviscostello.com.
And for those of you with A&E on your cable or satellite packages,
check out Elvis tonight in concert on A&E Live by Request, starting
at 10:00 p.m. e.s.t.