It's true, Elvis Costello and Alan Toussaint are separated by a generation of musical tastes.
Toussaint's, the spicy Cajun, is the put-your-finest-clothes-on jazz generation with a mean horn section, and Costello's, the singer-songwriter's wear-your-heart-on-your-sleeve-and-dance-like-nobody's-watching-with-a-mean-guitar-solo generation.
However, Costello and Toussaint aren't the unlikeliest of musical partners. In the mid-1980s, Toussaint produced a couple of songs for Costello and also contributed some of that New Orleans flavor horn section to Costello's album Spike.
We have Hurricane Katrina to thank for this recent partnership. As the story goes, Toussaint fled his native New Orleans after the Katrina devastation north to New York City, where Costello was looking for someone with whom to play and write music. The River in Reverse, as the title suggests, flows from south to north.
The result is a masterful album that contains seven songs from the Toussaint collection, five songs written in NYC by the two, and one song, the title track, authored by Costello himself.
Toussaint leads the instrumental on his piano and Costello takes a step back, offering the occasional guitar lick, and focusing primarily on vocals, which are consistently solid like the album itself. There's energy in the album. The coincidence of the partnership can be heard in the passionate renderings of the songs and it could be the last of its kind.