The hype and promo for Elvis Costello's latest album, Trust, says "finally, there is someone you can really trust." I can agree with it if it means that you can trust Elvis to come up with better music on each successive album.
Trust stars: Elvis on vocals and guitars, Steve Nieve on keyboards, Bruce Thomas on bass and his brother Pete on drums. Although the attractions have lost their billing with Elvis on the album, they are still deserving of it as musicians. Steve Nieve reveals some of his classical training on "Shot With His Own Gun" with some eloquent piano work. The Thomas brothers supply tight and moving rhythm (where needed) throughout the album.
There seems to be an africano musical influence developing on this album, especially on the songs "Lover's Walk" and "Pretty Worlds" which sounds somewhat like Paul Simon's "Late in the Evening" in its Latino flare. There seems to be a movement in new wave back to the rhythmic roots-african tribal music. The trend can be heard on the Talking Heads' latest album entitled Remain in Light.
"Clubland" is an upbeat reggae tune that talks about the club circuit and its inherent problems. Lyrics like "thursday to saturday and the money's gone already" give you an idea of the tough life musicians lead on the road. The theme is also extended to the inside liner of the album, which pictures Elvis Costello standing in front of a big bandstand such as one that might be found playing behind Ricky Ricardo.
Another thing Elvis can be trusted to do is innovate. This album features several surprising songs among the fourteen it contains. All of the songs but one were produced by Nick Lowe. Lowe is an old friend of Costello's and a respected new wave producer with a band of his own, Rockpile, that is doing quite well.
Foremost among the surprises is "Shot With His Own Gun." This is a slow ballad about a man ruined and exposed by his overpowering emotions. As mentioned earlier, this tune highlights Steve Nieve's piano playing as he goes through some lush, and elegant movements. Elvis' voice is put on top of it in a very pleasant duet, some portions of which is even reminiscent of Rachmaninoff.
"Different Finger" is another of the surprise songs and a fun one. This is a delightful parody of the latest musical fad In England — country music. It is done well enough so that anyone who has seen a Slim Whitman commercial on TV can recognize it for what it is. Indeed, there are guitars a 'twangin' and Elvis 'croonin.'
Two other songs are quite surprising. The first, "Big Sisters' Clothes" is surprising because of its spacy pink-floydian sounds with Elvis' voice mastered over them. If it wasn't for the 'King's' voice it would be difficult to determine whose song it was.
The other surprise features some guest artists, something seldom seen on Elvis' albums. Glenn Tilbrook is guest vocalist and Monty Belmont the guest guitarist on the song "From a Whisper to a Scream." The imported personnel work smoothly and the mix with Elvis full and intricate sounding. I hope that Elvis develops the idea of guest artists on future albums.
The rest of the songs range from ballads to more modern sounding tunes that remind one of Armed Forces. Elvis, the former computer programmer, has once again proved that Elvis the musician can hold his own in the waves, sailing among the prevailing modern musical winds.