Elvis Costello: Jason Bell/Camera Press/Retna
Chris Willman
September 18, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Why we can’t wait to hear Elvis Costello’s latest

When Elvis Costello & the Imposters’ Delivery Man arrives, pundits will inevitably enthuse that the journeyman has rediscovered what he does best: rock & roll. ”They always say that!” Costello laughs. ”It’s a rhythm & blues record, in my opinion. We tried to go to the vanishing point where country meets soul.” They found it by setting up shop in Oxford, Miss., sharpening the material with local gigs, which the sessions came to resemble: ”It’s mostly the sound of four people playing in the room with no separation, with live vocals,” he says. In bluesy moments, they sound closer to Los Lobos than Costello’s band of yore. ”The Attractions were one of the best bands of their time, but one thing they were never particularly good at was playing a groove.” The Imposters are the Attractions except for new bassist Davey Faragher, but Costello insists that’s made a world of difference in finding a bottom-heavier and, yes, groove-oriented sound. Don’t need all that soulful yowling? Costello delivers a vocal-free orchestral CD, the Shakespeare-inspired dance score Il Sogno, the same day…perhaps to confound rock purists who might’ve otherwise saluted him for getting back to basics. –Chris Willman

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