Elvis Costello burst onto the music scene in the late '70s as one of the angry young men of the post-punk generation. However, he soon distinguished himself as a performer with an exceptional facility with words and melody.
Costello dropped four classic rock albums in as many years before expanding his musical pallet to include country, English dance hall, classical and vocal jazz. Along the way, he solidified his reputation as one of the premier songwriters of his generation.
And like Neil Young and David Bowie before him, Costello became increasingly interested in confounding expectations with sometimes radical turns into new musical territory. The cunning contrarian's latest album, Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, continues that trend.
The new project was recorded in just three days with producer T-Bone Burnett, country artist Jim Lauderdale (vocal harmonies) and crack acoustic musicians Jerry Douglas (Dobro), Dennis Crouch (bass) and Stuart Duncan (fiddle, banjo). The country-folk approach gives the album a loose, down-home feel that suits the material, especially standout cuts like "Sulfur to Sugarcane" and "My All Time Doll."
Costello, who performed a soldout concert at Fraze Pavilion in 2005, returns Thursday, Aug. 27, to Kettering with The Sugarcanes. The live version of the band features Lauderdale, Crouch and Douglas from the album, plus Mike Compton (mandolin) and Jeff Taylor (accordion).