TOP TRACKS: Walk Us Uptown, Refuse to be Saved, Come the Meantimes, Wise Up Ghost
Upon first hearing that the Roots and Elvis Costello were getting together to make a full length studio, I was really surprised and shocked. I was perplexed that these two artists (whom I both like very much) could actually get together and combine for an album. Then when I really thought about it actually made a lot more sense than I had originally thought. Elvis Costello has been a classic staple of both early classier punk music and rock and roll and the Roots were a classier, jazzier form of hip-hop music. Bottomline, both of these artists were part of genres that really did not accept their classier and more sort of introverted style of music.
Granted, both of them are great. The Roots have released some of my favorite hip-hop albums ever and Elvis Costello is a living legend as far as I am concerned. So I was definitely expecting good things from this album especially after I heard them perform on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon where the Roots are Jimmy's backing band.
After hearing album enough times to form an opinion. My opinion really isn't all that strong. This isn't exactly an album that knocks you off your feet immediately. Both of the styles being fused together a bit more subtle and tougher to understand immediately. However, I really just didn't have a strong opinion on this album at all.
If there was one thing I knew from the beginning, it was that I really liked the mix of the sounds. The Roots and their elaborate style of big band production really fits Elvis Costello's musical style and voice. It turned out that Questlove and the Roots felt the same way that I did because basically every single track on Wise Up Ghost has the same feel and same overall mood/tempo to it.
The mood on this album is smooth as hell. You feel like you are in an exclusive nighttime jazz lounge and Elvis Costello and the freaking Roots are playing an intimate little set. No real extravagance or overt showmanship on this album and to tell you the truth I really enjoyed that.
The instrumentation was really nice, the grooves were really funky and Costello's voice was soulful. But I really couldn't bring myself to love any of the songs on the album. Except maybe for the track "Refused to be Saved". Something about this track just had a really infectious energy to it. I enjoyed it very much. It was really funky and it almost felt like Elvis Costello was rapping on this track! It sounded really cool in my opinion but it was the lone highpoint on the album. Everything else really stayed above average for me.
There wasn't too much completely wrong with this album except for the few times that the group try to take it really slow and mellow. This almost goes to R&B territory which is quite frankly a style that Elvis Costello is just not too well versed in. I mean it was to be expected that some of the experimentation in the mixture of these two styles would fall flat so I guess that's okay.
Quite honestly, these were two artists that I loved. From My Aim is True all the way up to How I Got Over. Both of these artists have put out GREAT releases with two unique yet interestingly similar styles and motivations. I really liked them separately and although it was cool to hear and see them together, I'm already a bit over it. I really appreciate these great ambassadors of music and for that reason I would probably still support them and see their show live should they ever tour together. I think that experience might be too cool to actually pass up.