Uncut, November 2010

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National Ransom

Elvis Costello

Alastair Mckay

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Declan's back. In the 1920s. And other decades.

The title, and Tony Millionaire's cover art, suggest this ambitious album is Costello's response to the new austerity. In parts, it may be; the title track seems to fit Wall Street crashes of whichever decade. But there's much more besides. Produced, again, by T Bone Burnett, but veering away from the bluegrass stylings of Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, towards a kind of orchestrated R'n'B, with flurries of old-time whimsy, The Beatles gone gothic ("Church Underground") and vaudevillian storytelling, it's dense and sometimes obscure. The highpoint is "Bullets For The Newborn King", a sweet lament written from the viewpoint of a regretful assassin, but "You Hung The Moon" (a swoony ballad about a seance for an executed deserter) and "One Bell Ringing" (about Jean Charles de Menezes?) offer strangely dreamy interludes on a record which is preoccupied with lies and death.

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Uncut, No. 162, November 2010


Alastair Mckay reviews National Ransom.

Images

2010-11-00 Uncut clipping 01.jpg
Clipping.

2010-11-00 Uncut cover.jpg
Cover.

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