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Elvis Costello & The Imposters continue winning streak with The Boy Named If

Elvis Costello conjures up echoes of his excellent past as the excellence continues on The Boy Named If (And Other Children’s Stories)

Elvis Costello & The Imposters - The Boy Named If cover art
(Image: © EMI)

It’s been a busy 12 months for Elvis Costello: he’s released the album Hey Clockface, a French EP based on it, and a re-worked, Spanish version of his 1978 album This Year’s Model. And now he’s back with The Boy Named If (And Other Children’s Stories)

Like most artists of a certain age, Costello tends to refer to his previous musical output, and The Boy Named If encompasses many eras of Costello’s work. 

There’s the baroque pop of Imperial Bedroom on The Difference, there’s the passion of Blood And Chocolate on What If I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, you could almost put Paint The Red Rose Blue on Painted From Memory, and My Most Beautiful Mistake on King Of America

But while everything here echoes its maker’s past, it all sounds new. Costello’s endless drive and passion don’t so much blow away cobwebs as dynamite the nearest dam and send them to a watery death. 

He describes his recent work as “records that are happening right now”. And he’s not wrong. The Boy Named If (And Other Children’s Stories) is excellent.

David Quantick is an English novelist, comedy writer and critic, who has worked as a journalist and screenwriter. A former staff writer for the music magazine NME, his writing credits have included On the HourBlue JamTV Burp and Veep; for the latter of these he won an Emmy in 2015.