After a brief sojourn into country music with his last outing, Almost Blue, Costello now returns to a more familiar groove. Picking up his development about where he left off with Trust, these sides show more sophisticated arrangements coupled with warmer and less caustic lyrics.
Overall, this album has a mellow feeling, with more than half of the 15 tunes striking a balladic moodyness. Costello delves deeply into love and relationships frequently, showing a pleasantly romantic side to his character(s). Singing in a rich voice, he projects his literate phrases with seasoned skill, giving rise to a set of tunes which are very pleasing time after time.
The Attractions remain a constant source of superb musical coordination for Costello. Throughout, their playing and arranging provides strength. Their instrumental spicings are always timed perfectly to bounce off a poignant lyric or a clever hook. The album is enhanced by the no-nonsense production of master engineer Geoff Emerick, who develops a clear sonic framework for the songs.
Costello's work continues to be a stimulating experience for those who have enough time and sense to listen. Perhaps he's not providing the pop stimulation the kids need, but he is definitely writing and performing some of the best songs in pop music.