Paste, December 2003

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Elvis Costello

Matt Fink

The latest rebound in a career that's been defined by its action/reaction dichotomy, North further cements Elvis Costello's standing as one of his generation's most profoundly exploratory songwriters. Proving he wasn't finished working through his Burt Bacharach fixation, Costello goes full-blown piano balladeer on the new record, the final product falling somewhere between sophisticated pop classicism and a timeless show-tune song cycle. The avid fan will be quick to see evidence of Costello's romance with jazz-pop princess Diana Krall in both the carefully sculpted arrangements and the hopefully romantic bent of the songwriting. But Costello's gift for measured idealism, artful description and skillful narrative restraint is present here as always. Although it could be said that Costello doesn't always play to the most prominent of his strengths, tracks like the gorgeously swaying "You Turned to Me" and the delicate, string-laden "Fallen" aspire to such lofty hallmarks of pop songcraft that the indulgence is more than justified. It's no surprise that Costello continues to challenge himself in such ways.

Tags: NorthBurt BacharachDiana KrallYou Turned To MeFallen

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Paste, No. 7, Dec. 2003 / Jan. 2004

Matt Fink reviews North for Paste's "20 Signs of Life From 2003."


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