I still remember dreading those Saturday mornings when my father would wake us all up by blasting his favorite country music station on the radio. The petulant twang of hanky-tonk music is forever embedded in my mind.
Costello's reverence toward his influences has led him.to cover an array of songs from traditional country greats (George Jones. Hank Williams, Charlie Rich, etc.). Costello's love for country music is no secret: "Different Finger" and "Radio Sweetheart" have a strong Nashville feel.
Costello utilizes the soft, alluring trill of his vocals to compel sympathy for his self-pity — an essential ingredient of country music. He moves you to join in him in tears as he agonizes over unwelcome divorce proceedings in "Brown to Blue."
Perhaps the best thing that can be said about Almost Blue is that a few tracks, most notably "I'm Your Toy (Hot Burrito No. 1)," sound like Elvis could have written them, if not for the lyrical simplicity characteristic of country music.
All previous Costello albums have had diversity in their favor. Almost Blue, from the piano bar sluggishness of "Sweet Dreams" to the upbeat "Honey Hush," suffers from the monotonous twang of the John McFee's (Doobie Brothers) steel guitar. It is there in every song, accenting the melody and irritating the ears.
Maybe it's my father's fault.