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Album reviews: Elvis Costello & the Roots, Jack Johnson, Avicii

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Updated: September 16, 2013 7:59PM



Elvis Costello & the Roots, “Wise Up Ghost”

By the time he stops making music, there may not be a collaborator Elvis Costello hadn’t met. His latest album follows this trademark experimentation; a partnership with avant-funk collective The Roots, these new songs offer deep grooves and dreamscape enhancements that freshen Costello’s sound and vocal bite. Shimmering guitars, horns, drum loops, and melting strings combine the grit of the Blaxploitation soundtrack era and sexiness of late night cabaret. For the Roots, this collaboration breaks them out of the late night television rut to flex their strength as inventive stylists who create new atmospheres by pulling from lyrical moods. In delivering these shadowy visions, Costello’s singing is his most expressive in years. Wise up, indeed.

— Mark Guarino

“True,” Avicii

Using live singers and musicians to humanize his beats, the Swedish DJ casts his net wider than Daft Punk did. Here, he collaborates frequently with Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger and enlists a supporting cast that includes Imagine Dragons, Adam Lambert and bluegrass singer Dan Tyminski. The wide-ranging results are tied together mostly by the beats-per-minute; that, and a focus on the songs themselves, whether it’s hit single “Wake Me Up” or the tunes Bergling wrote with country-pop singer/songwriter Mac Davis and Chic’s Nile Rodgers. —Brian Manfield, Gannett News Service

“From Here to Now to You,” Jack Johnson

The Hawaii-based troubadour once again surfs that fine line between mellow and soporific. Those who stay awake will find a delicate prettiness in some new tunes, along with the usual lean acoustic arrangements and lilting grooves. —Elysa Gardner, Gannett News Service



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