Sunday, June 14, 2009

Secret, Profane & Sugarcane
Elvis Costello

I enjoy Elvis Costello, probably more than most, and probably more than I should. His musical wanderlust is something I aspire to, and hope to duplicate in my own time. This is his blue grass album, essentially. He's teamed up with T Bone Burnett for the first time since 1989's Spike, which was certainly a different affair than this. That was all about odd noises and pop production. This album won't get played on any but the most dedicated Roots Music stations. It feels as authentic as it sounds, thanks mostly to Burnett's production, and his black book. Emmy Lou Harris is one of a number of guests who make great appearances. Costello's voice continues to age well, which is always a plus. It's barely changed from the early days, but it's gained a lower register and a greater emotional resonance, both of which come in handy throughout this event. While it proves an absorbing enough listen if you set out to do nothing else while it's on, it never grabs your attention if you don't volunteer it. Neither a career high nor a career low, it works as a companion piece to last year's Momofuku: competent entries into an exemplary catalogue that reinforce the spine without really adding any muscle.

Grade: C+

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