Elvis Costello's twenty-fourth record, North, due September 23rd, features fewer than twelve bars of electric guitar. Instead, the set, the follow-up to 2002's rocking When I Was Cruel, consists of eleven new piano-based ballads.
"I wanted to go for sounds that might be twenty feet away from you," Costello told Rolling Stone. "Everything happens in the foreground in pop records, trying to knock your eyes out. I don't know what kind of thing this is. I just think it's good."
Working in New York in April and May, Kevin Killen and Costello co-produced the record, which swings from spare solo piano to lavish arrangements for a forty-eight piece ensemble that included a nine-piece horn section and a twenty-eight-piece string section.
Costello did the conducting himself, waving his arms around and trying not to confuse the musicians -- with mixed success. "I don't think the New York Philharmonic is going to call me up," he said.