Twenty-four albums in 26 years and still no sign that our Elvis is running out of puff. Taking off at a sharp tangent from his rocking 2002 collection When I Was Cruel, this year's model finds him behind a piano singing the kind of ballads his mum and dad might have smooched along to when they were stepping out. Fifty-odd years later, their son has done everybody proud. Writing and arranging all the songs himself and even waving a baton in front of a 48-piece orchestra on a few tracks, this is Costello at his most impressive - for better or worse, according to taste.
North sustains a mood of languorous romantic reverie quite brilliantly – so brilliantly in fact that the songs tend to blur into one long sequence of tastefully chosen jazz chords: only "Someone Took the Words Away" and the closer "I'm in the Mood Again" leave a strong melodic trace. A similar conundrum surrounds his perfectly pitched vocal performance. Costello has the moves down pat, but that nasal twang, which works so well in front of a rock band, suffers a bit here from over-exposure.