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Chalk-and-cheese collaborations are an Elvis Costello speciality: the 1970s New Wave vituperator has, in mellower middle-age, made records with light-pop maestro Burt Bacharach, New Orleans bandleader Allen Toussaint and opera mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter.

The latest pairs him with Philadelphia hip-hop group The Roots who lay down thick funky beats over which Costello thankfully doesn’t rap. Instead he sings in his customary needling way, mixing lyrics from old songs with new verses and weaving his way through the unfamiliar musical territory: one of his better experiments.

Elvis Costello and The Roots

Wise Up Ghost and Other Songs 2013

(Universal/Blue Note)

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