Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 4, 2010

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National Ransom

Elvis Costello

Jon M. Gilbertson

Like many an album Elvis Costello has recorded in his later years, National Ransom is a grab bag of musical styles, but it is also a grab bag that holds nothing but goodies, and one of his most strongly varied albums since 1986's King of America."

Producer T Bone Burnett, who was involved with King of America and last year's Costello album, Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, lends the rootsy tastefulness for which he has become feted. Many familiar musicians, including Tom Waits guitarist Marc Ribot and Vince Gill, likewise lend their skills to Costello's sophisticatedly rustic songs.

Because Costello has touched upon almost every extant genre in his career (hip-hop remains beyond him), his command of everything from airily intimate folk ("Bullet for the New-Born King") and hillbilly swing ("A Slow Drag with Josephine") to barrelhouse rock ("My Lovely Jezebel") is unsurprising. But he makes up for the lack of surprise with a surfeit of pleasures.

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 4, 2010


Jon M. Gilbertson reviews National Ransom.


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