Blender, October 2003

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Blender

US music magazines

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Restless, divorced rocker takes a time-out for love

Elvis Costello / North

Ann Powers

★★★

This twenty-fourth album from the unstoppable punk-era British songwriter was born of besottedness — he has made an album to woo his new girlfriend, cool-jazz singer Diana Krall, penning songs suitable for her sultry presence. Despite its gently swooning tone, North is more complex than his sweetie's mood music. This chronicle of love's death and rebirth (i.e., Costello's recent divorce and subsequent engagement to Krall) could have been written by one of theater's post Stephen Sondheim bards — say, Adam Guettel or Ricky Ian Gordon — and like their work, it's art music first and pop music second. Most of the songs don't boast hooks, and only intent listening reveals how Costello's spare, stlyized lyrics play against his intricate melodic shifts. Almost painfully elegant arrangements grounded in Costello's (thankfully!) restrained singing and the trio of pianist Steve Nieve, double bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Peter Erskine waft open to include contributions from saxophonist Lee Konitz and the Brodsky Quartet. Call it Costello's engagement gift to Krall — a new sound born between the concert hall and the barroom, from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's foremost pop experimentalist.



Tags: NorthDiana KrallNorthSteve NieveMichael FormanekPeter ErskineLee KonitzThe Brodsky QuartetRock & Roll Hall Of FameAnn Powers

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Blender, October 2003


Ann Powers reviews North.

Images

2003-10-00 Blender cover.jpg
Cover.

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