Time Out, September 10, 2003

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Time Out

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North

Elvis Costello

Ross Fortune

Elvis, it would seem, is in love. With marriage to second wife (ex-Pogue Cait) now behind him, the not at all pompous high priest of pop is currently head over heels with jazz singer Diana Krall. So, from opener "You Left Me In The Dark" to closer "I'm In The Mood Again," this is a poetically versed collection of emotionally bared songs gradually charting his uplift in mood from hurt to hope, pain to bliss, "last hurrah" to "first bouquet."

But be warned, it's one of his "serious" albums. Hence the Kronos Quartet and varied featured soloists.

Yes, North might involve new lyrical themes and different musical drapes, but we've been here before.

To cut to the nub, Costello's voice simply works best when snapping and rasping and buried in brutal imbroglio. Here, however, he does that oversinging thing again — all epic, aching, sincerity and dubious, jarring vibrato. It's uncomfortable to listen to and painful to endure. Of course, everything is washed in the finest silken sounds: Steve Nieve's sensitive piano, the gently melodramatic strings, a light wash of brush on drums and tenderly muted trumpet. But always, always, there is that foghorn bellow.

Anyone tempted to purchase, should be redirected towards classic Sinatra albums like Songs For Swingin' Lovers, In The Wee Small Hours, Only The Lonely or Come Fly With Me. They're somewhat cheaper and infinitely better. Already got them? Good. Now rest assured, you don't need this.

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Time Out, September 10, 2003


Ross Fortune reviews North.


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