Originally published in the Chautauqua Region Word (07/23/09 - 08/05/09 edition).
Elvis Costello - Secret, Profane and Sugarcane
"Secret, Profane and Sugarcane" opens with a twang so old that you're not sure if Elvis dropped us in the middle of the 1940s bluegrass movement or if he is a revived Civil War balladeer. It's easy to forget for a moment that this is the same Welsh guy that gave us driving rock songs like "Radio Radio" and "Pump It Up" back in the 1980s.
Admittedly, I am not a lover of bluegrass or country music and my knowledge of American folk music runs shallow. That doesn't matter when listening to this album. Costello gathered a group of fine musicians for his back-up band on this earthy release.
Themes of love lost, loneliness, and pain run deep; which is amusing when you consider that Costello landed himself a fine wife in Jazz Singer Diana Krall. Either way, he's tapped into the consciousness of a broken heart on tracks like "I Felt The Chill Before the Winter Came," "I Dreamed of My Old Lover," and "She Was No Good."
The timing of the album's release with the onslaught of the summer months is perfect as this is porch settin' music. Make a pitcher of sun tea, cut up some cantaloupe from the farmer's market, and pretend to set the needle down on the your iPod for an hour. Better yet, see if there's any tickets left and grab an amphitheater seat to hear some of these songs in Costello's act live at Chautauqua Institution on August 29th.