http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/b50be4587cf4552deee356c5412b6a15182ed755.jpg North

Elvis Costello


Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 2.5 0
October 16, 2003

Having reinstated his rock & roll credentials last year with When I Was Cruel — not to mention getting inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — Elvis Costello characteristically makes a dramatic stylistic turn on North. The album is filled with haunted, piano-centered ballads and elegant string and horn arrangements that tease out subtleties in the songs' already understated melodies. Costello's singing is quiet and controlled, an intimate voice describing an emotional journey from abandonment ("You Left Me in the Dark") to a renewed commitment to love ("Let Me Tell You About Her"). North exudes a consistent, subdued beauty that, at times, is almost too delicate to make a true impression. Despite its intelligence and musical sophistication, the album floats by on a breeze so light that it risks escaping notice; the songs disappear into the air before the listener can discover a way to inhabit them. There's an undeniable pleasure in that effort to grasp this music and its meanings before they fade, but at times you can't help wishing they were less evanescent, more substantial.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “San Francisco Mabel Joy”

    Mickey Newbury | 1969

    A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

    More Song Stories entries »