Elvis Costello

Elvis, Times Two

ElvisThe ever-prolific Elvis Costello drops two new albums this week: the rock-oriented "The Delivery Man" (Lost Highway) and the orchestral "Il Sogno" (Deutsche Grammophon).

"The Delivery Man" was largely recorded at Sweet Tea Studios in Oxford, Miss. (one track was recorded in Clarksdale, Miss.). Along with the Imposters -- Attractions drummer Pete Thomas and keyboardist Steve Nieve and former Cracker bassist Davey Farragher -- the set features appearances by Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris, and was produced by Costello and Dennis Herring (Modest Mouse, Throwing Muses).

As for "Il Sogno," it was recorded in 2002 by the London Symphony Orchestra after being originally commissioned by Italy's Aterballeto dance company for an adaptation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

"I was extremely surprised to be asked, I had little or no understanding of the world of dance," Costello says. "When asked 'Who is your favorite dancer?,' I replied honestly, 'Cyd Charisse.'"

"There are elements of humor [in the score]," he says. "When it came to writing music for the supernatural beings in the story, I thought it is only appropriate that they should be swinging faeries. However, there are also passages representing confusion, jealousy, anger and turmoil. These cues have the edges, angles that I go looking for in rock and roll but the way they are achieved is utterly different. I hope there are also moments of tenderness."

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