Review of For The Stars
Rolling Stone, 2001-05-24
- James Hunter


Elvis Costello Anne Sofie von Otter Meets Elvis Costello: For The Stars

RS Rating: 3.5/5       Reader Rating: 4/5/5

Since he outgrew the resentful backbeats and dense literacy of his New Wave fame, Elvis Costello has taken on the role of musical champion, drawing listeners' attention to neglected musical areas via records with the Brodsky Quartet, Burt Bacharach and German cabaret star Ute Lemper. His work's fine intentions notwithstanding, the actual results have been spotty. But with this collection of eighteen songs produced by Costello and sung by the Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, Costello ascends to that tiny part of heaven reserved for great musical ambassadors. On Ron Sexsmith's "April After All" or the bulletproof version of Brian Wilson's "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)," von Otter revels in the genius of the compositions, as only someone who can deliver every note perfectly can. And her major mezzo sounds exactly right in songs such as Bacharach and Costello's "This House Is Empty Now" and Tom Waits' "Take It With Me." Throughout For the Stars, she applies a gorgeous, conversational formality to song after moving song. (RS 869 - May 24, 2001)