Released at a time when contemporary pop music is virtually defined by the histrionics and studio-generated emotion of folks like Celine Dion, the fine Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach collaboration, Painted From Memory, was unfortunately lost in the Top 40 shuffle.
Receiving boatloads of media attention entirely based on the seemingly unlikely coupling of Costello and Bacharach, Painted From Memory hearkens to a time when popular musk featured lush arrangements, soaring orchestras and powerful lyrics.
From the opening strains of the CD's opening track, "In the Darkest Place," it is clear that Costello and Bacharach are after something more than the easy-to-swallow, trench silk grooves of classic Bacharach. The tranquil, rolling river melody belies the dark subject matter — a dismissed lover stands outside the door of his paramour as she makesJove to another man.
But "In the Darkest Place" is a mere teaser to the multitude of pleasures that follow. The songs span from the. insanely catchy "Toledo" to the heartbreaking gentle delicacy of the title track to the soaring epic "God Give Me Strength."
This isn't to imply that Painted From Memory is a perfect album. There are a few missteps like the ready for muzak "The Long Division," which lyrically and musically stumbles over its math as metaphor for broken love, and a cheesy guitar solo in the otherwise lovely lament 'This House is Empty Now."
Painted From Memory occupies a significant niche in the realm of contemporary pop music. It is a recording that, hopefully, marks a return to music for only the lonely — smart, touching songs about love, loss and the omnipresent spectre of regret.