Elvis Costello - Momofuku (Lost Highway, 2008)
In his notes to this new record, Costello writes "Some rock and roll music is better if you don't think too hard on it." Seriously fed up with the business of music, he had threatened to either quit recording, playing live or both. Thankfully a guest role helping out alt-country singer Jenny Lewis rekindled his love for music and sparked him to go back to his rock 'n' roll roots and make one of his best latter day records. For all of Costello's genre experiments, he is much like fellow lifers Neil Young and Van Morrison, they keep coming back to the basics to make their best statements. When he sings about his "gunslinger swagger" on the snarling "Go Away" he really means it. This is the EC that made his mark with short, sharp and witty songs; and it where he has his most success. "Stella Hurt" with the great refrain of:
Blues song! Red alert! Who made Stella hurt?
is another excellent winner in an album filled with small gems of inspired songwriting and tight performing. One of the things that has dogged him over the past twenty years is a propensity for maudlin ballads. In this case only the sentimental "My Three Sons" approaches this trap, with the other ballad, "Flutter and Wow" is a truly inspired piece of allegory and song craft. Fans who have fallen away over the past few decades may be surprised how inspired and modern the music sounds, and this album is very highly recommended.
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Motif - My Head Is Listening (Clean Feed, 2016) ***½
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