Kenosha News: Dan Pavelich: 9th October 2013.
A lot of critics think that Elvis Costello went off the rails after the release and subsequent success of 1989’s “Spike” album. I would tend to agree with them. “Spike” gave birth to his biggest hit stateside, “Veronica,” co-written by none other than Paul McCartney.
Since then, Costello has flirted with jazz and Burt Bacharach pop leanings, while his staunchest supporters have longed for the aggressive sound of his earlier records, in particular, 1976’s landmark “My Aim Is True.” With The Roots as his backing band, there’s a good chance that “Wise Up Ghost” will satisfy that desire.
If you’re not familiar with The Roots, you’ve probably never seen “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” where they serve as the house band. The Roots come from a funk & R&B background, each member being a seriously-gifted player. This just might be the greatest assemblage of late-night musicians ever, drummer Ed Shaughnessey of Carson’s Tonight Show Band notwithstanding.
“Walk Us Uptown” may be the first Liverpool rap number, with Costello doing his best words-as-daggers delivery. On “Tripwire,” he sounds more passionate than he has in decades, with The Roots applying just enough ambience for his love-torn and dark lyrics. Each song begs the question, “Where has this pairing been for the past few decades?”
The only misstep is the strange cover art, or nearly complete lack thereof. Its black text on a white background does little to hint at the amazing music that is contained within. This is certainly the best record I’ve heard all year.