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Elvis Costello has always been more known for baring his teeth than baring his soul. But North, his string-laden follow-up to 2002’s When I Was Cruel, which is due September 23 on Deutsche Grammophon, may surprise fans with its remarkably revealing song cycle narrated by a suitor who has fallen madly, deeply in love. Arranged for both orchestra and a jazz ensemble anchored by drummer Peter Erskine, trumpeter Lew Soloff, members of The Jazz Passengers and longtime pianist Steve Nieve, the 11 compositions are: "You Left Me in the Dark," "Someone Took the Words Away," "When Did I Stop Dreaming," "You Turned to Me," "Fallen," "When It Sings," "Still," "Let Me Tell You About Her," "Can You Be True?," "When Green Eyes Turn Blue" and "I’m in the Mood Again." As evidenced by the CD’s geographically specific title and such infatuation-laced lyrics as "So run up a banner and we’ll stand underneath/You gave me a starry flag for one with a leaf," the inspiration for this album would seem to be his engagement to Canadian singer Diana Krall. "It’s obviously drawn from personal experience," Randy Dry, VP of Marketing for Universal Classics, tells ICE. "But I know Elvis feels it’s important that his audience can identify with the sentiments being expressed — primarily about love lost and love found, coming out of the darkness and into the light. It’s really his most personal and intimate album yet. His lyrics are quite different from anything he’s done before." In typical Costello fashion, the singer has recorded the album’s title track but chosen not to include it on the official CD. "Elvis felt the essence of the album was those 11 tracks," Dry says, noting that Costello’s plan is to distribute the title song exclusively via the Internet to fans who purchase the album. Collector’s note: The first 100,000 U.S. copies of North come packaged with a bonus DVD of Costello performing "Still," "Fallen" and "North" solo at the piano. Japanese pressings of North will include bonus tracks of two outtakes — "Impatience" and "Too Blue." The European edition also will offer "Impatience." No U.S. release of those two outtakes is planned, although Dry noted at press time that Costello was pondering switching the U.S. digital download to "Impatience" since the alternate performance of "North" will be available on the American bonus DVD. (reporting by David Okamoto).
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