|Elvis Costello & The Imposters: Elvis Costello (vocals, guitar, ukulele, Wurlitzer piano, tambourine).|
Personnel: Emmylou Harris (vocals); John McPhee (pedal steel guitar); Steve Nieve (melodica, piano, Wurlitzer piano, harmonium, organ, Hammond b-3 organ); Davey Faragher (Fender Rhodes piano, bass guitar); Pete Thomas (drums, percussion); Lucinda Williams.
Recording information: Delta Recording, Clarksdale, Mississippi; The Village Recorder, Los Angeles, California; Ocean Way Studios, Nashville, Tennessee.
In between Elvis Costello's 2003 album of jazzy, piano-based ballads (NORTH) and his 2004 album of orchestral, neo-classical compositions (IL SOGNO), rock's original Renaissance man somehow found the time to journey down to Oxford, Mississippi with his band the Imposters (essentially the Attractions with a different bassist) for the follow-up to his masterful 2002 pop album, WHEN I WAS CRUEL. There are some parallels to that record; a similar sense of raw immediacy, spare arrangements, and a couple of songs that echo WHEN I WAS CRUEL's churning, cyclical feel.
For the most part, however, THE DELIVERY MAN, with its prevalence of rootsy country and soul influences (and duets with Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris), is closer in style to the much-loved 1986 Costello album KING OF AMERICA. "The Name of This Thing Is Not Love" sounds like it ought to be powering a Sam Moore comeback album, and "The Judgement" was, in fact, recorded by Solomon Burke for his 2002 comeback record, DON'T GIVE UP ON ME. Some cuts leave the rootsiness behind (the slinky, image-laden title song; the pounding, urgent "Bedlam"), but THE DELIVERY MAN is ultimately a deep bow to the American musical inspirations that are a huge part of Costello's vision.