New Releases

Costello's National Trip


If you don't already count Elvis Costello among the greatest living songwriters/performers, I'd like you to contact Concord Music Group with your name and address so we can turn you into the authorities because you are clearly a terrorist who hates all things that are good and pure. Before the FBI kicks in your door, I suggest you give Costello's new Hear Music release National Ransom a listen. It might help your case.

From the politically charged title track to the low-down "Church Underground," Costello returns here to what my wife calls "angry Elvis," the voice of his youth that superbly captured injustices and ironies of all stripes with the perspective of a drunken beat poet.

That said, it's not all rants and angst. The whimsical "Slow Drag With Josephine" hearkens to Costello's shady traveling carnival collection Secret, Profane And Sugarcane. And like that previous album, National Ransom was produced by the legendary T Bone Burnett. But the sound on this latest release, though deceivingly modest in arrangement, is thoroughly modern.

As with any Costello work, the lyrics read like layered sheets of fabric, revealing a form underneath hidden in folds and shadows. In "My Lovely Jezebel," he describes a man's romantic folly with painful honesty: "Man is a miserable ape and sad pile of sticks/He comes out swinging, gets in a few licks/The longest of drum rolls for the shortest of tricks."

National Ransom is also available on LP. Get it now. The FBI is on the way.