In 1981, English singer-songwriter Elvis Costello took a pretty surprising detour from the caffeinated new wave he'd perfected with albums like This Year's Model and My Aim Is True. He headed to Nashville and recorded Almost Blue, a collection of classic country tunes that saw him working with country heavyweight producer Billy Sherrill instead of Nick Lowe (who had produced all of Costello's albums to that point). Comprised of songs like Merle Haggard's "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down" and Hank Williams' "Why Don’t You Love Me Like You Used To," Almost Blue still twitches with Costello's trademark nervy energy but his sincere love of the form is evident as is his skill for singing it. — J.F.
Listen: "Almost Blue"