Elvis Costello and the Imposters: Momofuku (Lost Highway)

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Elvis Costello and the Imposters: Drum and Bone
Elvis Costello and the Imposters: Momofuku (Lost Highway)

Elvis Costello has been at it so long now -- his debut was more than three decades ago (see Absolute Elsewhere) -- he's reached that McCartney/Clapton platform where he could do his best work in years, and few would be listening.

Costello's most recent albums have been loosely in the classical and jazz genres, and an album of New Orleans-influenced music with Allen Toussaint. His last "rock" album was The Delivery Man of 2004, but that was actually more alt.country and folk-blues.

To get a real "rock" album you have to go back to 2002 for When I Was Cruel, and albums like Brutal Youth and All This Useless Beauty in the mid 90s.

For those of us -- myself included -- who like to hear Costello venomous, lyrically allusive, rocking and urgent it is a long time between drinks (which may also explain the success of the repeated reissue of albums from his first decade).

But for this oddly entitled album (more of that shortly) he gets the Imposters back for a collection of originals which include Song with Rose (co-written with Rosanne Cash) and Pardon Me Madam, My Name is Eve (co-written with Loretta Lynn for an as-yet unrealised album together). And mostly it rocks in that archetypal Costello manner where he also touches on Latin rhythms and country styles (as he did at the beginning of his career).

This isn't among his classic rock albums but the man is such a craftsman his work will never fall below a very high threshold, so old fans could confidentally come back for this one and find plenty to immerse themsleves in.

The title comes from the name of the man who invented instant noodles ("just add water" being the analogy of getting the band back together to make an album) and certainly the Imposters and guests (Jenny Lewis, David Hildalgo and others) lock in effortlessly behind the boss.

Costello also knows how to sequence an album and this begins with a rocking blast, pulls back by the end of the first side (it is constructed like two sides of vinyl), then hits hard to open the second side before ballads (including the lovely My Three Sons) and the Cash and Lynn co-writes.

It keeps the attention right to the impromptu-sounding and brittle Go Away with Jenny Lewis which closes this throughly satisfying Costello collection.

But of course, how many are paying attention at this point in his career?

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