Somehow, nearly thirty years into his career, Elvis Costello managed to turn out one of his best albums ever.
Costello is anything but afraid to take a chance. Some may argue that he's too willing to do so, leaping from one style to another, often leaving the less adventurous listeners in the lurch while doing so. Those who simply listen to Costello for the song-writing have been rewarded with a (mostly) consistent and large catalog of music.
The advantage of having such an illustrious past behind him is that, while it may have frustrated fans at some points, the long, varied career behind Costello allows him to pick and choose from everything he's done to craft albums now, arming him with a bevy of powerful tools with which to create music. And while he's able to borrow from his past, he resisted simply rewriting old songs with The Delivery Man.
This time around, he mixed up that troublesome mid-period, where he'd moved from the uppity post-punk of his angry young man" period to the thoughtful faux-country style he inhabited on King of America, with the nuanced and purposeful angst of the peeved nearing middle-aged man" of Brutal Youth, with a few touches of the obtuse, gritty dirt of 2002's When I Was Cruel.
The result is a bunch of gorgeous ballads, the best of which are the yearning Either Side Of The Same Town" and the sorrowful Nothing Clings Like Ivy" juxtaposed with the raucous 60s throwback energy of Monkey to Man" (one of my favorite songs of the year, in fact) and the rousing country-rock of There's A Story In Your Voice," featuring the vocals of new-country star Lucinda Williams, whose drunken-cowgirl schtick is as irritating as it is endearing. The result is an album of finely crafted songs that will provide for pleasant listening for years to come.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.