Album Reviews | Elvis Costello and The Roots – Wise Up Ghost and Other Songs (2013)

This album is so cool. In fact, everything about it is cool. Who could have imagined Elvis Costello, who basically is the definition of hip, playing with hip-hop group the Roots? Unlike other mash-ups with rap artists, which never seem to bring much of anything new to the table since rap music is almost always created through studio techniques, this collaboration works since the Roots are an actual band — and they can play. Anchored by the great drummer Questlove, the Roots provide plenty of funk for the great Costello, who contributes some wonderful songs here to his still-growing catalog: “Refuse to Be Saved” is an instant standout, “Tripwire” is quite affecting, “Cinco Minutos Con Vos” has an indelible groove, and the ominous title track is also very memorable. Wise Up Ghost is an album that deepens with additional listens, and is a highly successful collaboration between two formidable artistic camps.

Not only is Wise Up Ghost and Other Songs as good as can be hoped for from artists that have been around as long as Elvis Costello and the Roots, but it stands on its own as a stellar release and is a highly successful collaboration album.
  • Highly elastic feel; great rhythm
  • Songs are mostly top-notch
  • Production has a lot superb touches and is finely textured, as well
  • The emphasis on groove makes the songs sound similar to each other
  • Some dynamic range compression

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