Elvis Costello: National Ransom
Elvis Costello is the coolest man on the planet. While I don't know his entire life story, I can safely make this assumption after simultaneously listening to National Ransom and his CD with the Attractions, "Armed Forces", released 31 years ago. The voice, the attitude, the magic: three decades later, Costello's still got it.
National Ransom opens with the title track, and it blitzes from note one: soft organs pressed against wailing guitars while Costello's croon rides the bluesy pop tune for four minutes. It sounds like everything I'd hope for a newer Costello album after hearing his (arguably) biggest release: jazz and country sink into the pop spectrum and create that glow only Costello can emit.
My biggest fear has been settled: Costello can still make a fun album at the age of 56. "Five Small Words", "I Lost You" and "A Slow Drag With Josephine" are infectious, whether it be a certain twang, Costello's repetition of syllables or a whistled bridge. Even slower, acoustic-driven songs like "One Bell Ringing" don't sound out of place. There are so many genres being crossed on the album without it ever feeling congested. Versatile, not haphazard.
The biggest compliment I can give to the album is that I can't wait to explore the rest of Costello's back catalogue. If the older albums are able to be so whimsical and trance me like National Ransom does, it'll be well worth the investment.
If only I could buy his cool.
By: Dylan MacKenzie