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Elvis Costello Goes North

Elvis Costello loves Diana Krall. He also loves the same music as Diana Krall, which explains why Costello’s new CD, North (Deutsche Grammophon), is heavy on the torchy piano ballads.

The man who came up with punk rock is now “one of the world’s premier adult music artists,” as Universal’s Web site unapologetically states. North features Costello’s usual pianist, Steve Nieve from the Attractions, as well as jazzers Peter Erskine on drums and Mike Formanek on double bass. In addition to writing the album entirely on piano (of which, Costello admits, he’s not the best player), the majority of North is sung in the former ranter’s baritone register (with plenty of vibrato, natch). The music, also arranged and conducted by Costello, sometimes features a 48-piece ensemble, composed of a rhythm section, horn nonet and 28 string players.

Costello’s songs on North are unrelentingly slow and balladic, but they all aren’t romantic paeans to Krall; some obviously deal with his breakup of his second marriage, to former Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan. (Have fun picking out the love songs from the heartbreakers!) Our own Christopher Loudon compares North to Frank Sinatra’s 1954 classic weeper In the Wee Small Hours. That’s high praise, indeed.

For the “Still” video and the audio stream of “Fallen,” both from North, click here.

For more news and Costello’s official site (and, if you’ve bought the CD, to download the not-on-the-disc title track to North), go to

And for those of you with A&E on your cable or satellite packages, check out Elvis tonight in concert on A&E Live by Request, starting at 10:00 p.m. e.s.t.

Originally Published