Melbourne Beat, October 14, 1998

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Painted from Memory (Mercury/Polygram)

  Judy Eastman

Painted from Memory is the result that surfaces from originally pairing Costello (one-time spiky punk with a sentimental heart) with Bacharach (renowned for producing pop hit after pop hit with partner Hal David) to write a song for a soundtrack ('God Give Me Strength' for Grace of My Heart). Yes, they enjoyed it so much, they went out and wrote an album's worth of songs. The results may be unsurprising- there's the expansive orchestration marshalled by Bacharach and Costello's unmistakable vocals-but it's a pleasant listen. 'Toledo" is a vintage Bacharach arrangement, featuring brass that's reminiscent of past glories like 'Walk on By'. Strings (and we're talking orchestral volumes) take prominence on 'God Give Me Strength' and 'l Still Have That Other Girl'. Listeners who aren't fans of Costello may find his vocals a little overpowering at times for the symphony of stirring strings and understated brass. Rest easy-it's not 'Pump It Up' done in orchestral style. More of an 'Alison' kind of sentiment and approach- particularly on tracks like 'Tears at the Birthday Party'. Hardcore Costello fans familiar with his work with the Brodsky Quartet (The Juliet Letters) will know that he is no stranger to classical instruments but might find this release a little tame. Born of a commission for a contribution to a soundtrack, Painted from Memory stays pretty close to its roots.


Beat, October 14, 1998

Judy Eastman reviews Painted From Memory.


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