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New Costello album!


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This looks like it has major potential!!

When Elvis Costello decides to go country, he goes all-in. Yesterday, Costello announced the details of his forthcoming album, Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, due June 2 on the Starbucks imprint Hear Music. (That cover, above, comes from "Maakies" cartoonist Tony Millionaire.) Costello is going full-on Americana with this one, and he is not playing.

For this album, Costello recruited a murderers' row of trad-country and bluegrass session players, including dobro master Jerry Douglas. All of them play acoustic instruments on the album, and when Costello tours this summer, that band, now named the Sugarcanes, will back him up. One song, "The Crooked Line", features backing vocals from Emmylou Harris, while Loretta Lynn co-wrote "I Felt the Chill". If you're making a country record, these are good people to have helping you out.

Costello also worked with a producer, T-Bone Burnett, who specializes in just this sort of traditional music toe-dip. In fact, Burnett's done exactly this sort of thing with Costello before, on Costello's 1986 classic King of America, as well as his 1989 not-classic Spike. Besides producing, Burnett co-wrote two of songs on Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, and he also played guitar on a few. His guitar is the only electric instrument on the record.

The album includes new versions of two older songs that Costello wrote for Johnny Cash. Cash released one of them, "Hidden Shame", on his 1990 album Boom Chicka Boom. A few other songs, weirdly enough, concern the 19th century relationship between the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen and the Swedish singer Jenny Lind. P.T. Barnum also shows up. Apparently, Costello wrote an unfinished opera about Andersen for the Danish Opera Company, so that explains that, I guess. The album also includes "Changing Partners", a song that Bing Crosby made famous.

The double-vinyl version of the album will include two bonus tracks: A cover of the Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale", and "What Lewis Did Last", Costello's "sequel" to the Appalachian murder ballad "Omie Wise".

Costello will release two songs from the album, "Complicated Shadows" and "Dirty Rotten Shame", as a 7" on Record Store Day, April 18.

Read Costello's thoughts about the making of the album here.

"Spectacle", Costello's music-and-talk show, continues to air on the Sundance Channel. This week's episode features James Taylor. Your mom will totally watch that.

Secret, Profane & Sugarcane:

01 Down Among the Wine and Spirits

02 Complicated Shadows

03 I Felt the Chill

04 My All Time Doll

05 Hidden Shame

06 She Handed Me a Mirror

07 I Dreamed of My Old Lover

08 How Deep Is the Red

09 She Was No Good

10 Sulfur to Sugarcane

11 Red Cotton

12 The Crooked Line

13 Changing Partners

14 Femme Fatale (Velvet Underground cover) *

15 What Lewis Did Last *

* vinyl-only bonus tracks

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