Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach
Painted from Memory
First Appeared in The Music Box, March 1999, Volume 6, #3
Written by John Metzger
A pairing between Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach isn't as far-fetched as it might initially seem. Costello's ballads have always touched upon Bacharach's pop songwriting style, and since his early harder-edged days, Costello has included Bacharach songs in his set lists. The duo finally collaborated on God Give Me Strength for the film Grace of My Heart, which in turn led to the release of Painted from Memory and a subsequent tour.
Costello's voice seems to grow stronger with age, as evidenced by the twelve tracks contained on this album. The emotion carried in each of his vocal inflections is truly remarkable. Costello has never sounded quite so vulnerable as he does on the haunting supplication of God Give Me Strength or the melancholic desolation of This House is Empty Now.
Taken alone, all of these songs are certainly palatable. However, as with anything Bacharach has recorded, a full album is just far too many saccharin-laced melodies to stomach. The string and horn arrangements utilized throughout Painted from Memory only serve to water down Costello's potent vocal attacks and biting rhythms, leaving very little into which you can sink your teeth. Bacharach fans will be pleased with this album, while Costello fans be left with a feeling of emptiness.
Painted from Memory is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1999 The Music Box