You know Elvis Costello: angry young punk with talent to spare turned middle-aged (52 candles this summer) master collaborator. Preceding projects have promulgated an array of songwriting trysts (Bacharach and McCartney and wife Diana Krall, to name but a few) as well as orchestral dalliances with the Brodsky Quartet and the Metropole Orkest. But do you know Allen Toussaint? You should. For while Costello's vocals are featured on nearly every tune, this is Toussaint's album: his influence, his sound, recorded on his turf. Spurred by the New Orleans producer/arranger/songwriter's (count off Lee Dorsey's "Working in a Coal Mine," Dr. John's "Right Place, Wrong Time" and Boz Scaggs' "What Do You Want That Girl To Do?") relocation to New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, this affiliation could've easily skewed toward the virulent vitriol that Costello wore on the shoulder of his younger days. Instead, The River in Reverse tenders him as explicator of Toussaint's gospel-grounded, mannered soul, all the while playing to his own current strength: adaptability.
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