The king (of new music) is back! After a three-year dry spell, Elvis Costello has a new release In the racks. And It Is outstanding by virtually any measure.
Costello has surrounded himself with an array of players that ranges from Paul McCartney to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. (McCartney even did some songwriting with Costello.) The varied backgrounds of the musicians is indicative of the musical breadth of Spike, which includes elements of country, rock, and traditional jazz.
But this album is no hodge-podge. Costello's ever-improving singing style and his lyrics — which are both personal and political on this release — hold the package together. Even when he jettisons words altogether, he is most impressive, as on the instrumental, "Stalin Malone."
More than a decade after he became known as music's angry young man, Costello has lost none of his edge. It is true that his songs are more introspective these days, but he is still willing to bare his soul is ways that few major artists are even able to imagine.
On Spike, he takes an all comers, from God to ex-lovers. And he never does drop the ball.