Review of For The Stars
Rolling, 2001-04-10
- Jim Washburn


Anne Sofie von Otter Meets Elvis Costello: For The Stars

Reader Rating: 4.5/5

No Wonder | Baby Plays Around | Go Leave | Rope | Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) | Broken Bicycles/ Junk | The Other Woman | Like An Angel Passing Through My Room | Green Song | April After All | You Still Believe In Me | I Want To Vanish | For No One | Shamed In Love | Just A Curio | This House Is Empty Now | Take It With Me | For The Stars
(Deutsche Grammaphon - 2001)

When Elvis Costello snuck in with the punk movement in 1977, it would have taken someone more prescient than Nostradamus to predict that a quarter century later Costello would record for the venerable Deutsche Grammophon classical label. Those accustomed to hearing Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter in the world's opera houses may be similarly surprised to hear this unique and utterly magical pairing. Typically when classical artists, singers particularly, assay popular music the result is an awkward novelty showing how far apart the worlds are. Costello, who successfully bridged that gap coming from the other direction with his 1993 collaboration with the Brodsky Quartet, The Juliet Letters, serves as arranger and producer here, drawing deeply human performances from von Otter on eighteen songs by artists ranging from Abba to Tom Waits, with a goodsome helping of Costello. While it is all superlative, particular standouts are the two Brian Wilson Pet Sounds songs, "You Still Believe in Me" (with a vocal assist from Costello) and "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder"; the melding of Waits' "Broken Bicycles" with "Paul McCartney's "Junk"; "Just a Curio" by Costello and the experimental Swedish string quartet Fleshquartet; and the achingly exquisite Costello-penned title track. (JIM WASHBURN -- April 10, 2001)