Mojo, October 2003 review of North

Pretty self-explanatory
johnfoyle
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Mojo, October 2003 review of North

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Nov 03, 2003 4:37 pm

Mojo, October 2003

Elvis Costello (4 Stars `Splendid!The best of it`s
kind`)

North

Love saves the day on Declan`s classically-scored
21st album.

Never expect the expected - who doesn`t know that
about Elvis Costello by now? - but no one seems more
surprised by the changes that Costello`s life has
undergone than the man himself. Asked about the title
of his new album , Costello replied ," That`s where
I`m headed." On a eponymous song - which ,
perversely , fails to appear here - he croons
euphorically about a place "where polar bears and
moose and geese will play . And some of them address
you en francais. Give me the ice and snow. Time to go
....North."
Of course , it`s tempting to assume that the North
to which Costello refers is the birthplace of his
current squeeze , Canadian singer Diana Krall. But
whatever the dramatis personae , the most remarkable
thing about North is the slightly concussed air of the
man singing on it.
There may be a happy ending , but it begins with a
mere silhouette of a man , all but indistinguishable
among the debris of his relationship."I thought we`d
make it all the way", exclaims the sombre baritone on
You Left Me In The Dark over the sparest of
accompaniments.
On Someone Took The Words Away , the sparest jazz
noir shuffle subtly frames the inarticulate speech of
a broken heart. Assisted by sundry passing Brodskys
and an ever-intuitive Steve Nieve , there`s nothing so
intrusive as an electric guitar to puncture the
introspection.
Recent interviews have seen Costello expressing
his desire to write songs which don`t draw attention
to their own cleverness. Idle observers might wonder
how such intentions square with a classically scored
narrative about love lost and then found . But much of
the craft in songs like Fallen and You Turn To Me is
hidden. You feel its effect , but if you don`t go
looking for it , you might never notice it.
On the former , he sings, "I believe that life was
wonderful right up to the moment when love went
wrong," while strings brightly suggest that Cupid may
already be drawing back his bow.
No less affecting is the moment on the latter
where - using the same minor/major shift deployed by
his namesake on Can`t Help Falling In Love - Costello
sings , "Call my name/And I`ll answer." It`s one of
the great changes of all time , and it suits the song
perfectly.
Some criticisms remain. A voice as unmistakable
as Costello`s doesn`t carry pastiche as well as , say
, Paddy MacAloon did on Prefab Sprout`s kindred
Andromeda Heights. The slightly sickly Let Me Tell You
About Her evokes Peter Skellern far more readily than
Stephen Sondheim: "Friends look at me in fond
surprise/But when I start to speak they roll their
eyes." Who could blame them ? Costello , one of
music`s most fearless polymaths , has yet to master
cute.
Impressive as such an enterprise is , past form
tells us that an impressive Costello set isn`t
necessarily one that finds its way into the CD tray
too many times. That said , North radiates a humanity
that wasn`t altogether apparent on , say , The Juliet
Letters or When I Was Cruel - and when he sighs, "I
don`t know what`s come over me," over the closing
credits conclusion of I`m In The Mood Again , it would
take a hard heart to begrudge him.

Peter Paphides

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BlueChair
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Postby BlueChair » Mon Nov 03, 2003 4:43 pm

Isn't MOJO a bit late with it's North review? :D
This morning you've got time for a hot, home-cooked breakfast! Delicious and piping hot in only 3 microwave minutes.

johnfoyle
Posts: 14078
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Nov 03, 2003 4:46 pm

It has been out in print form for over a month. It was only when I was putting together a list of reviews that I realised it was not on the `net - so , fool that I am , I transcribed it.
Last edited by johnfoyle on Mon Nov 03, 2003 4:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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BlueChair
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Postby BlueChair » Mon Nov 03, 2003 4:49 pm

Much appreciated, john!
This morning you've got time for a hot, home-cooked breakfast! Delicious and piping hot in only 3 microwave minutes.

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Otis Westinghouse
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Postby Otis Westinghouse » Mon Nov 03, 2003 7:10 pm

Hats off to John!

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bambooneedle
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Postby bambooneedle » Mon Nov 03, 2003 7:21 pm

Ditto.


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