Elvis Costello is back today (October 12th) with Look Now — his first new studio set in five years. Costello was forced to scrap a series of spring European gigs after undergoing surgery for, “a small but very aggressive cancerous malignancy.” The reinvigorated and healthy Costello will be on the road throughout November and December in support of the new album.
Look Now marks Costello’s first new collection since his 2013 team-up with the Roots on Wake Up Ghost and the Imposters’ first set backing Costello since 2008’s Momofuku. The album has been issued in both a standard and deluxe edition with four additional songs — including the solo Costello track “You Shouldn’t Look At Me That Way,” which was featured in the 2017 movie Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool. In addition to that, one of the songs was composed with Carole King and three others with Burt Bacharach.
Costello and Carole King were interviewed together for The New York Times, and Costello shed light one of the more unique aspects of Look Now, explaining, “It’s one of the only ones where I recorded the vocals last. Normally, I arrange outward from a core vocal, which tortures the band. Sometimes the drummer says I drag or speed up a verse. Here, I had it all arranged in my head.”
King asked Costello why he enjoys the collaborative process with other writers: “It’s the speed with which it’s done. When I did the songs with Paul McCartney, it was like a tennis match. Reaching across the table, I’ve got this line. I’ve got that line. And then the song was done.”
Costello went on to say, “I never planned to be a singer. I was a songwriter. My role model was (the Band’s) Robbie Robertson, but I couldn’t find a Levon Helm or a Rick Danko, so I was forced to sing. Had I come up in Carole’s time, I tell myself I wouldn’t have been a performer, which, for a lot of people, would have been a relief because they wouldn’t have to hear me sing. . . I thought of myself as a writer before I thought of myself as a musician. I knew I was some kind of writer from when I was eight or nine. I didn’t know I was a musician until I was 17.”
Elvis Costello told us that upon launching his career, he never set out to change or break the rules of rock and pop songwriting and recording: “I was just making rock n’ roll records as I knew how to make ’em and ballads and all the music that I loved. And obviously over the years, the things that I can draw from has grown, because I’ve listened to more music, I’ve absorbed more music, more music has interested me. I’ve written a lot of different things, I’ve had all these collaborations of different kinds — some of them very far away from the world that I began in. But they’ve all sort of had some positive influence on the possibilities of music when I set out to write and arrange.”
Photo Courtesy of Andy Gotts