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Elvis Heads South for Another Country Adventure
on April 17, 2013
Teaming up for another album with T Bone Burnett, Costello dives back into the world of bluegrass, country, Americana and folk for another rich and diverse offering that officially cements him as one of the greatest musical minds in history. This album finds him dealing with stories and themes of the South and it's Antebellum stylings, never ceasing to surprise at every twist and turn.
The album opens with "Down Among the Wines and Spirits", a brilliant and bluesy introduction that's both catchy and fun. It's clear which waters EC is choosing to sail and the trend continues with "Complicated Shadows", a re-done version of a song that previously appeared on All This Useless Beauty. This version trades the loud guitar and drums of the original for acoustic stylings and a country swagger. "She Handed Me a Mirror" and "Red Cotton" tell great stories while "Hidden Shame", "I Dreamed of My Old Lover" and "Sulfur to Sugarcane" all explore different areas of bluegrass and country. The tunes are unique but also accessible enough for those who aren't big fans of the genre. It's evident that Costello is a music lover and he does country better than most of today's country artists. If country and bluegrass were always done this brilliantly then I'd tune in much more often.
"The Crooked Line" is a fiddle-driven number that's just awesome and the closer, a cover of "Changing Partners", is dedicated to Cosetello's wife and it's a fitting and touching end to the album. However, it's the ballad "I Felt the Chill Before the Winter Came" that literally gives me chills. It's haunting and downright beautiful and an absolute essential for any curious listener. It's a classic Cosetello ballad of epic proportions and the fact that gets some help from Loretta Lynn just seals the deal. It's devastating and has quickly become a favorite of mine.
I'm not a fan of country and bluegrass but Elvis Costello does it so well that I can't help but be impressed. This album is terrific and while not quite perfect, it's certainly in the upper-tier of his work and it's worth a listen for the musically adventurous.