Elvis Costello: National Ransom (Universal)

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Elvis Costello: You Hung the Moon
Elvis Costello: National Ransom (Universal)

The prolific Costello's last album – Secret, Profane and Sugarcane of last year – was his most interesting in years with its mix of rock, raw country, edgy ballads and bluegrass, all helmed by co-producer T Bone Burnett.

Although Costello is not one to jog on the spot, this new one – in a cover by the same artist, Tony Millionaire – feels like a companion volume in its diverse musical menu, with many of the same players back and Burnett again.

Although this opens with the blazing rock'n'roll title track, an attack on Wall Street bankers (“we're working every day paying off the National Ransom”) the sounds shift from old jazzy instrumentation (fiddle, trumpet on Jimmie Standing in the Rain) through jaunty folk (A Slow Drag with Josephine), touches on rockabilly for Five Small Words, lap steel-coloured barnyard country-rock (I Lost You), white-knuckle folk, Fifties rock . . .

As always Costello, who offers a physical location for each piece in the manner of a concept album, deals with Big Stuff: You Hung the Moon is a sad, string-touched ballad about families trying to contact a WWI soldier shot for deserting; a political assassination in Central America in 1951 (Bullets for the New Born King); the price of friendship and the gossip which follows (That's Not The Part of Him You're Leaving which could be a companion piece to John Hiatt's She Loves the Jerk), a film noir scenario and betrayal (All These Strangers). . .

At 16 tracks this feels very long, and with its referencing something more of a homework assignment than the previous album, but you can't deny Costello the breadth and depth of his vision.

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