Two magnets of collaboration get their opposites on...
Elvis Costello And The Roots - Wise Up Ghost

Two magnets of collaboration get their opposites on for ‘Wise Up Ghost’, perhaps not the most obvious of unisons but certainly an effective one.

Leaving the whys and wherefores for messageboard protestors, The Roots mostly sound like the in-house band they’ve partly become, contractually bound to keep it steady like true slow-handed funk outfits (‘Sugar Won’t Work’).

With a mild streak when it comes to rebellion – think a Mark Ronson reach-out – they resist showy urges or god forbid any hip-hop attitude (i.e., Black Thought is kept out of bounds) for the sake of Sunday morning easiness.

But while ‘Grenade’ sounds almost agonisingly reined in, Questlove still manages to get ‘Cinco Minutos Con Vos’ muttering beautifully under its breath, and the title track to expressively, expansively frame storytelling whispers with a build up of Bond scene adrenaline.

Elvis Costello, constantly lurching and leaning on the mic stand or back-and-forthing in time from a comfy chair, is not a bandleader by definition. Not always successful as funk frontman either, he thwarts himself with the sneers of ‘Refuse To Be Saved’, yet syncs up immediately afterwards on the pub rock-ish ‘Wake Me Up’.

When the international art thief’s crispy rasp stretches idiosyncratic pleas, he makes wordplay hay without compromising on tenderness (‘If I Could Believe’), and barbed delivery tapping into past ire and campaigning.

Of the two acts, Costello’s pinch of dry spice makes this set more his vehicle to champion, but both show a mutual, practical affinity.


Words: Matt Oliver

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Stream the whole of ‘Wise Up Ghost’ via Deezer, below…


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