Elvis Costello: In Motion Pictures

elvis cElvis Costello
In Motion Pictures
(Universal Music)

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Opening with jaunty “Accidents Will Happen” into the chunky, percussion-led “Lover’s Walk,” In Motion Pictures is Elvis Costello’s new album of songs that were written and recorded for movies, or previously-recorded tunes by this prolific songwriter that relate to film in some way.

Here we have the acoustic spike of “My Mood Swings” from The Big Lebowski, Elvis’ rendition of “She” (one of the few here he did not write) from Notting Hill and “God Give Me Strength” from one of the most underrated films (and film soundtracks) of recent years, 1996’s Grace Of My Heart. This is just one of the many tunes from that movie and collection Elvis wrote with Burt Bacharach. (How’s that for a collaboration?!)

“Days,” a song that appeared in the Wim Wenders film Until the End of the World,  has a Middle Eastern flavor, with Costello sounding not so much like himself vocally, on a tune written by Ray Davies. It is one of the true masterpieces here as is Costello dueting with Jimmy Cliff on “Seven Day Weekend.” Ending the entire album, there is some brilliant guitar playing that opens the last tune here, “A Town Called a Big Nothing,” a song that Elvis recorded with The MacManus Gang, featuring his dad, Ross.

It’s hard to pick up even the least popular Elvis Costello album and not find great songwriting. In Motion Pictures is just another in a long line of releases presenting some of Mr. Costello’s great songs, this time related to movies.

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