Secret, Profane and Sugarcane
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2009 album from the legendary singer/songwriter and Rock icon, which sees him returning to acoustic American roots music for the first time since his 1986 album King Of America. The album was produced by T Bone Burnett and recorded during a three-day session at Nashville's Sound Emporium Studio. Costello and Burnett have previously collaborated on King of America and Spike. Costello's band for the project includes such Bluegrass and traditional country musicians as Jerry Douglas (dobro), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Mike Compton (mandolin), Jeff Taylor (accordion) and Dennis Crouch (double bass). Emmylou Harris sings on one song, and Burnett adds his Kay electric guitar sound to several songs, the only amplified instrument on the album. Ten of the album's tracks are new Costello compositions, including two written with Burnett. One song, " I Felt The Chill," was written by Costello and Loretta Lynn, while two of the album's tracks -- "Hidden Same" and "Boom Chicka Boom -- were originally written by Costello for Johnny Cash.
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Does this album stand up to Burnett's other recent productions? Yes. But here's the catch: whereas the other Burnett-produced albums were stellar primarily because of Burnett's production (admit it; I love Alison Krauss, Robert Plant, Mellencamp, and the other artists Burnett has worked with, but his production has been front-and-center), SUGARCANE excels mainly because of Costello. There's only one cover song here; everything else is a tried-and-true country number, influenced by Costello's rock/pop nuance. The end result is fabulous tracks like the titular number, the rollicking opener "Down Among the Wine and Spirits," the haunting Loretta Lynn co-write "I Felt the Chill Before the Winter Came," and every other track here. SECRET, PROFANE, AND SUGARCANE is another great notch in T. Bone Burnett's belt; but it's also an outstanding achievement for Costello himself, and perhaps even country music in general. Outsiders often breathe the best life into country (I'm thinking of Bruce Springsteen's WE SHALL OVERCOME: THE SEEGER SESSIONS primarily, but there are others); Costello has lit a fire that will, unfortunately, go out (Nashville bigwigs won't pay any attention at all, damn them); but we at least get to sit back and relish in this great, timeless music from two of the music industry's most talented individuals.
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This is merely a gimmicky attempt at producing a "new sound" to a "new...Read more