Elvis Costello Set To Release Secret, Profane & Sugarcane LP

Spectacle host and Jenny Lewis BFF Elvis Costello is following up last year’s Momofuku in early June with the mostly acoustic Secret, Profane & Sugarcane. It was produced by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ pal — and, more importantly, King Of America and Spike knob-turner — T Bone Burnett during a three-day session in Nashville. A handful of country and bluegrass musicians including Jerry Douglas (dobro), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Mike Compton (mandolin), Jeff Taylor (accordion) and Dennis Crouch (double bass) helped out. Fans heard some of the songs during Costello’s 2007 The Bob Dylan Show sets. There are also ten brand new tracks, including two co-written with Burnett (“Sulphur to Sugarcane” and “The Crooked Line”) and a collaboration with Loretta Lynn (“I Felt The Chill”). Extending the twang, two older songs, both originally written for Johnny Cash, were rearranged for string band and stamped by Costello. Tony Millionaire’s album art is quite handsome.

The title’s a reference to “The Secret Songs,” Costello’s unfinished Royal Danish Opera-commissioned work about the life of Hans Christian Andersen. The Danish fairytale writer shows up via his relationship with singer Jenny Lind in Secret’s “She Handed Me A Mirror” and “How Deep Is The Red.” Then Lind, appropriately, takes center stage in “She Was No Good.” The song deals with her P.T. Barnum-promoted “All-American” tour in 1850, ergo Barnum’s the focus of “Red Cotton.” So, yes, there’s more going on here than a new mustache. The songs by title alone:

01 “Down Among The Wine And Spirits”
02 “Complicated Shadows”
03 “I Felt The Chill”
04 “My All Time Doll”
05 “Hidden Shame”
06 “She Handed Me A Mirror”
07 “I Dreamed Of My Old Lover”
08 “How Deep Is The Red”
09 “She Was No Good”
10 “Sulfur To Sugarcane”
11 “Red Cotton”
12 “The Crooked Line”
13 “Changing Partners”

The vinyl edition will include a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale” and Costello’s sequel to the Appalachian murder ballad “Omie Wise,” which he’s calling “What Lewis Did Last.” The first single “Complicated Shadows” was previously on Elvis & the Attractions’ ’96 album All This Useless Beauty, and appeared in the third episode of The Sopranos. This version will presumably have a T Bone/Secret twist. It’ll be released as a 7″ backed by “Dirty Rotten Shame” on 4/18.

Secret, Profane & Sugarcane is out 6/2 via Starbuck’s Hear Music. That’s right, you’ll have to buy it with your sugary latte. Costello will be out on tour with musicians from the album (“The Sugarcanes”) in June and August.

[Elvis photo by James O’Mara]