Amazon, in their nefarious way, hooked me on this one. I was ordering another CD online and, even though I’d never ordered an Elvis Costello over their service, they knew I was a fan. So, while checking out, they casually wondered if I’d like to add to my shopping cart “Almost You: The Songs of Elvis Costello.”
Quite unlike the other “cover” CD “Bespoke Songs, Lost Dogs & Rendevous” which was largely songs written by EC but performed by other artists, this CD is a genuine cover CD with a bunch of indie artists taking on some favorites from Napoleon Dynamite’s early and middle career.
The only artist I readily recognized was Fastball, who do a fine cover of “Busy Bodies” from EC’s “Armed Forces.” But the other artists are pleasant surprises, like finding $10 in an old pair of pants. The singer named “Hem” does a fabulous slow-country version of “(The Angels wanna wear my) Red Shoes” – each distinct guitar strum melding in with beautiful vocals. This is counterbalanced with a double-quick tempo kick on “No Action” by Grand Champeen. Li’l Cap’n Travis does an anguished take of one of my favorite EC songs: “Blue Chair”, building slowly and filling in twangy vocals with a slide guitar. The last track is “Sleep of the Just” from “King of America” played with a droning church organ by The Mendoza Line. If this version doesn’t suit your taste, there’s a “hidden” track (not on the track listing) of the same song played to a banjo and a saw.
Yes, Elvis Costello on banjo and saw, vocals by hillbilly; that track alone makes this CD a must-have for Elvis Costello fans.