ELVIS COSTELLO & THE IMPOSTERS, THE BOY NAMED IF – REVIEW
by Rudy Palma
Elvis Costello has had decades in the music business, the singer, guitarist, and songwriter has created more than 31 studio records, three live albums, and numerous guest appearances on stage, studio, and screen. Costello has also collaborated with Paul McCartney, Allen Toussaint, and Burt Bacharach. As a songwriter, Costello’s songs have been recorded by George Jones, Chet Baker, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Dusty Springfield, and Robert Wyatt. Elvis Costello and The Attractions are releasing The Boy Named If, a collection of thirteen snapshots based on ‘IF,’ “a nickname for your imaginary friend; your secret self, the one who knows everything you deny, the one you blame for the shattered crockery and the hearts you break, even your own. You can hear more about this ‘Boy’ in a song of the same name.” Costello declares. Sebastian Krys and Elvis Costello produced the album.
“Paint The Red Rose Blue” is Costello writing an emotional set of lyrics with his usual wit and tirade. Costello falls into the vocalist class tolerated because of his outstanding songwriting. If Costello was only a vocalist, it is doubtful his career would have been as illustrious. His tone is thin, and his sustain is lacking. However, he is gifted at conveying the emotional characteristics of his song’s characters, which, combined with his lyric writing, is why Costello is a celebrated artist.
“Magnificent Hurt” is an angst-rock selection that shows the passion that Costello and The Attractions can produce – surrounded with classic organ parts from his longtime keyboardist Steve Nieve that is propelled by the Davey Faragher and Pete Thomas rhythm section. Costello’s guitar playing sits in the middle to round the edges as his vocals bounce over a driving beat. From a vocal standpoint, this is a strong sound for Costello. His dramatic delivery matches the mood and emotion of the lyrics, making this the album standout selection.
The Boy Named If is Elvis Costello & The Imposters spinning forth a set of songs that have a wide range of contrast, feels, textures, and emotions. Costello is still writing songs that have gravity and style. Though his vocals may not win any awards, his songwriting will, and for that reason alone, one should digest the material on The Boy Named If.