Gulf News, October 21, 2018

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Elvis Costello’s ‘Look Now’ album review: A sumptuous treat

Pablo Gorondi / Associated Press

Those in the songs may be mostly miserable, but the album will make its listeners very happy

Like in Anna Karenina, the characters in Look Now, Elvis Costello’s sumptuous new album with The Imposters, are each unhappy in their own way.

A woman who laments her deteriorated marriage while doing some renovations around the house (Stripping Paper); a dilapidated music-hall singer whose return to showbiz may be brief (Under Lime); a daughter pondering her dad’s infidelity (Photographs Can Lie); someone grieving the end of the British empire (I Let the Sun Go Down) and so on.

What makes it easy to be sympathetic with even the most pitiable of those in these very human songs are Costello’s elegant melodies and arrangements, which result in a kind of silkier, even more debonair version of Imperial Bedroom, his 1982 album produced by recently departed Beatles recording engineer Geoff Emerick.

Costello’s guitars are mostly in a supporting role. Horns, woodwinds and strings — as well as some of the liveliest backing vocals on an EC album since Afrodiziak lit up Punch the Clock — plus the deft hands of The Imposters and Argentine-born co-producer Sebastian Krys, turn Look Now into one of his most sonically gratifying records.

Burt Bacharach composed some of the music and Costello also dusted off Burnt Sugar Is So Bitter, another tale of domestic gloom, written years ago with Carole King. But there are several others, including Why Won’t Heaven Help Me and Stripping Paper, which show how deeply those 1960s sounds, from pop to soul, influenced Costello and how expertly he applies them in his own superlative songwriting, which Look Now has plenty of.

Costello said he recorded the lead vocals as he was recovering from a cancer scare and it made him feel invigorated instead of depressed. The power of his voice here, including that characteristic long-wave vibrato, confirms his mood.

Those in Costello’s songs may be mostly miserable, but Look Now will make its listeners very happy indeed.

Tags:  Look NowThe ImpostersStripping PaperUnder LimePhotographs Can LieImperial BedroomGeoff EmerickAfrodiziakPunch The ClockSebastian KrysBurt BacharachBurnt Sugar Is So BitterCarole KingWhy Won't Heaven Help Me?


Gulf News, October 21, 2018

Pablo Gorondi reviews Look Now. This review also appeared in the Huntington Herald Dispatch, the National Post, the New Jersey Herald, the New Zealand Herald, the Washington Post and the Winona Daily News.


Look Now album cover.jpg


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