Edinburgh University Student, November 5, 1981

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Edinburgh Univ. Student

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Iain Halpin

Elvis Costello singing Country and Western? A surprised Iain Halpin reviews his new album Almost Blue.

Costello's increasing concern with domestic issues and his greater emphasis on voice and keyboards in his music, form the basic ingredients of country music so his choice of style was not as odd as I had first thought, and with the help of bigwig Nashville producer Billy Sherrill, a pedal steel guitarist and a female chorus, a country sound good enough to please any purist is created. All the tracks on the album are reworks of classic country ballads and are narrative laments of lost love — they are in fact almost blue.

Elvis, it seems, discovers alcohol lyrically for the first time, and "Sittin' and Thinkin'" — a reflective ballad, and the almost rockabilly "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down" are both dedicated to the demon drink.

The humorous side of country music is seen in this last song and in "Brown to Blue" — a courtroom ballad — and in "Why Don't You Love Me Like You Used To Do" — ("My hair is still curly and my eyes are still blue, Why don't you love me like you used to do") — the raunchy opener to the album.

There are a group of mid tempo songs, which balance the album nicely — "Success," "Sweet Dreams," "Colour of the Blues" and notably — "Good Year For the Roses," familiar to all via the radio, all of which catalogue, successfully, tales of lost love. However, the best moments on the album come when full reign is given to the emotion in Costello's voice, in the slower, more sparsely arranged songs. In "Too Far Gone" Costello resigns himself to his lover's departure; "How Much I Lied" sees him apologising for his past infidelity, and in "I'm Your Toy" — my favourite track, he firmly states his unreturned love for her will continue. In all three songs, but especially the last, Costello wrings a painful amount of emotion from the lyric.

The album's one jarring note arrives with "Honey Hush" which I quite frankly didn't like, but overall, the album combines progression with enjoyment, which will please his fans and may convert his critics, both to C&W and to Costello himself.

So, forget your prejudices and go and buy the album — you have nothing to lose but your bad taste.

Tags: Almost BlueNashvilleBilly SherrillJohn McFeeNashville EditionSittin' And Thinkin'Tonight The Bottle Let Me DownBrown To BlueWhy Don't You Love Me (Like You Used To Do)?SuccessSweet DreamsColour Of The BluesGood Year For The RosesToo Far GoneHow Much I LiedI'm Your ToyHoney Hush


The Student, November 5, 1981

Iain Halpin reviews Almost Blue.


1981-11-05 Edinburgh University Student page 14 clipping 01.jpg

Photographer unknown.
1981-11-05 Edinburgh University Student photo 01 px.jpg

Page scan.
1981-11-05 Edinburgh University Student page 14.jpg


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