There's a harsh school of thought that reckons Costello is at his best when dispensing barbs. Indeed his last album, When I Was Cruel, was hailed as his best for some years. It featured rock songs, as opposed to the excursions into classical music and
love-ins with Burt Bacharach, the other pastimes Costello's been up to since he was important. Now, he's fallen in love with Canadian jazz singer Diana Krall. North, then, is one of these latter type of records: a sophisticated clutch of string and piano laden songs about relationships waning and waxing. It is austere and grown up — not bad things in themselves. But for all the considerable craft and feeling here, you can`t help but roll your eyes, much like Costello`s friends on "Let me Tell You About Her," the album`s nadir.