Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Graham Clark
Features Writer
12:10 AM 15th January 2022

Album Review: Elvis Costello And The Imposters - The Boy Named If

Elvis Costello and the Imposters - The Boy Named If
4 Stars

Farewell, OK; The Boy Named If; Penelope Halfpenny; The Difference; What If I Can't Give You Anything But Love?; Paint The Red Rose Blue; Mistook Me For A Friend; My Most Beautiful Mistake (guest vocal by Nicole Atkins); Magnificent Hurt; The Man You Love To Hate; The Death Of Magic Thinking; Trick Out The Truth; Mr. Crescent.

Catalogue Number: EMIV2047 (EMI RECORDS)

Fresh from his recent performance on the Royal Variety Performance, Elvis Costello and the Imposters release this new album of thirteen urgent, immediate songs with bright melodies, guitar solos that sting, and a quick step to the rhythm.

It is not the first time that Costello has recorded an album of songs that last under three minutes, for that you have to go back to 1980 for Get Happy!! heavily influenced by soul and R&B.

On that album he was accompanied by The Attractions whose Steve Nieve and Pete Thomas are also in The Imposters along with Davey Faragher.

The theme of the album is about a boy becoming a man. Though the album was recorded during the pandemic with the musicians playing remotely it sounds complete and fully charged and if the band were all in the same room.

Farewell, OK as the opening track is a classic Costello song that could have come from his 1979 Armed Forces album, though there is an undercurrent of the sixties track Hippy Hippy Shake, the Farewell OK lyrics appear to be about saying goodbye to the horrors of the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Penelope Halfpenny is the next highlight on an album that sounds like one of Costello’s best, the track bursts with energy built on a melodic hook underpinned by Steve Nieve’s organ, the track is destined to be one of the favourites when the band tours this summer.

Throughout The Boy Named If the listener gets a feeling of an artist who still has the fire in his belly, so to speak, it might be Costello’s 32nd album, forever the musical chameleon Costello seldom disappoints on this eclectic collection of songs.

It is not all upbeat songs though as he finds his crooner voice on tracks such as Paint The Red Rose Blue, Trick Out The Truth and Mr Crescent recalling his Good Year For The Roses hit.

Magnificent Hurt mixes the sixties organ sound pitched up against Costello’s impassioned vocals whilst the Burundi beat of The Death of Magic Thinking give the track an urgent and upbeat feel.

After over forty years of writing and performing Costello sounds better in 2022 than he has ever done. A fine return.

Elvis Costello plays the following Northern concerts:

8 June - Newcastle 02 City Hall
10 June - Liverpool Philharmonic
11 June - Manchester Opera House