Pop & Rock

Beautifully Profane


Elvis Costello's new album Secret, Profane And Sugarcane once again finds him teaming with legendary producer T Bone Burnett, the man behind John Mellencamp's recent Love, Death, Life And Freedom. As with their previous endeavors, the record explores new territory and gets as close to flawless as any in Costello's long career.

Costello and Burnett worked together for The King Of America and Spike, both stellar forays into specific genres -- the former, country; the latter, pop. On Sugarcane, the pair follow a path oft traveled by Burnett, most notably on the wildly successful soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? The result is an album in which Costello thumbs his way through country, bluegrass, blues and even cabaret music, although he never strays so far into the weeds that he loses his signature rock edge or dark wit.

The lyrics and vocal rhythm on "Down Among The Wines And Spirits" stroll along with the band like a pleasantly drunk hobo while "Sulphur To Sugarcane" bounces through cities visited by Costello while on the road. And "The Crooked Line" features harmony vocals by the queen of bluegrass Emmylou Harris. (On a side note, the charming yet slightly creepy album cover was illustrated by the phenomenal Tony Millionaire of Maakies fame.)

Costello has proven his versatility time and time again. With Sugarcane, he and Burnett have created another gem.

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