Music Reviews: First solo album by Elvis Costello in 10 years

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HEY CLOCKFACE – ELVIS COSTELLO

His first solo album since the National Ransom of 2010 fulfills the stated objective of Elvis Costello to deliver something “lively, whether… loud and snappy or intimate and beautiful.”

With the spoken word piece Revolution #49 and the punky No Flag, the album opens. From the outset, the eclectic tone is set and includes scat vocals on the title track and I Can’t Say Her Name, as well as a range of horns and woodwinds from the Parisian trio of musicians who participated in the two-day session that created the bulk of the record, along with Costello’s longtime collaborator Steve Nieve.

Together with Hetty O’Hara Confidential, the single We’re All Cowards Now is a standout moment about the rise and fall of a dreaded gossip columnist, and the Tom Waits-esque What Do I Need That I Don’t Already Have?

It may not rate among his classic records, but an interesting and worthwhile addition to Costello’s catalog is Hey Clockface.

Tom White White

DIZZEE RASCAL – AFF E3 – E3

In 2020, Covid-19 may have disrupted the music industry, but Dizzee Rascal was busy distributing food packages during the pandemic in his home region and earning an MBE for his music services.

He steps it up another notch with his seventh studio album, E3 AF, which draws on his childhood in East London and his African heritage, remaining true to his roots while taking on the world.

The grime pioneer has seen the genre go mainstream since his first release, 2003’s Mercury-nominated Boy In Da Corner, while enjoying massive success with number-one singles including Bonkers and Dance Wiv Me.

“God Knows”God Knows”Be Incredible,”Be Incredible.

Dylan Mills may be living part time in Miami now, but this is his first album he has composed, recorded and released entirely in the UK in 13 years.

This is evident in the name drops of Eastside ice cream for Matthew Kelly and Gino Ginelli and Danny Dyer rhyming with Papaya on Born Loose, while “Wrighty, Merson and Dennis” are listed elsewhere for Happy Shopper and Arsenal.

Guests include the mod band Missing Andy, Kano and Ghetts, P Money and Rob Jones of Essex. The vocals of Alicai Harley make Energies + Forces one of the most immediate of the 10 songs, and on NSFW Don’t Be Stupid, Ocean Wisdom trades light-speed raps.

Too late for E3 AF came a track recorded with Noel Gallagher, but the album deftly mixes the early left-field creativity of Dizzee Rascal with his later pop success, bringing him back into the fold.

About Matthew George

AMY MACDONALD – The criteria for humans

In “The Human Demands.” Amy Macdonald delves deep into the spirit of Americana.

On a record that deals with age, loneliness and the pitfalls of love, the Scottish singer-songwriter, 33, looks inward.

Macdonald teamed up with indie producer Jim Abbiss (the man behind early records by Artic Monkeys and Kasabian) and the result is an album that sounds new and light.

As its name suggests, with a playfulness that Macdonald’s recent albums have lacked, The Human Demands addresses the complexities of adult life.

“Do you ever really feel like you’re all alone / And you’re surrounded by the people that you love the most,”Do you really really feel like you are all alone / And you are surrounded by the people you love the most.

Statues recalls Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers’s jangly riffs and storytelling, while in its melodic delivery and reflective pacing, The Hudson recalls Springsteen.

It’s an album that blends vulnerability, with gratifying results, with unabashed rockiness.

Green Alex

JANE MCDONALD – JANE MCDONALD VOL 2 CRUISING

On the BBC show The Cruise, it’s been more than 20 years since Jane McDonald became a household name.

Her bubbly nature made her a popular regular on the Loose Women ITV talk show and later she hosted shows on Channel 5 such as Jane McDonald and Jane McDonald And Friends Cruising With.

Her new album is like listening to McDonald’s in a cabaret with powerful covers of It’s Now Or Never by Elvis Presley and Get Here by Brenda Russell.

Evita’s Another Suitcase In Another Hall also matches McDonald’s voice, and she does good versions of Spinning Around and Madonna’s Ray Of Light by Kylie Minogue.

This is McDonald’s ninth album, and to keep things exciting, she’s made some bold song choices.

But The River Of Dreams by Billy Joel, The Heat Is On by Glenn Frey and New Sensation by INXS are less suited to her voice and the voice of Men At Work

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