The River in Reverse, Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint's spirited and deeply soulful new album -- seven songs from Toussaint's remarkable catalog; five newly written by the two; and one new song, the title track, written by Costello -- will be released June 6, 2006 by Verve Forecast. A limited edition CD/DVD combo will also be available (DVD features studio footage, photo sessions and more).
Sessions for the album took place over a whirlwind two weeks late last year in Hollywood, CA and at Piety Street Studios in Toussaint's hometown of New Orleans.
Produced by Joe Henry, the album masterfully combines Costello's band The Imposters with Toussaint's horn section (Amadee Castenell, Joe Smith, Sam Williams and Brian Cayolle) and guitarist (Anthony Brown).
Toussaint led the ensemble from the piano, with Imposters keyboard player Steve Nieve switching to Hammond B3. The majority of the tracks were cut with the entire group in the room and Costello singing live, occasionally adding his guitar to the mix. Costello selected songs from deep within the Toussaint catalogue such as "Nearer To You," "Freedom For The Stallion" and "Tears, Tears and More Tears." Toussaint kicks off the lead vocal on his composition, "Who's Gonna Help Brother Get Further?" and trades vocal lines with Costello and bassist Davey Faragher on several other tracks.
All of the horn arrangements are marked with Toussaint's distinctive style and, commented Costello, "add a second voice" to the title track, the one song that Costello wrote alone. Just before the recording began, the duo holed up in New York to write together throughout October, a quick-moving process that resulted in four songs on the album of various combinations of words and music.
The songwriting collaboration began with Costello writing lyrics for Toussaint's beautiful minor key variation of Professor Longhair's "Tipitina." The resulting piece is now entitled "Ascension Day." Other new titles include "The Sharpest Thorn," "Broken Promise Land" and "International Echo."
Toussaint previously produced a 1983 Costello cover of Yoko Ono's "Walking on Thin Ice" with the Attractions and The T.K.O. Horns, and also contributed piano to the New Orleans-recorded "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror" from Costello's 1989 album 'Spike.'
Immediately following Hurricane Katrina, Toussaint relocated to New York City where the two renewed their musical friendship at several benefit concerts and club gigs during the a seven day period from the 17th of September, leading to discussions of this new album. The powerful song "The River in Reverse" was written by Costello on September 24th, 2005, and performed by him for the first time at that night's "Parting the Waters" benefit event organized by the The New Yorker magazine.
Costello & Toussaint begin an extensive tour this June.
Also see New Orleans Times Picayune and Rolling Stone stories about the recording of "The River in Reverse."
The River in Reverse track listing:
- On Your Way Down (Toussaint)
- Nearer To You (Toussaint)
- Tears, Tears and More Tears (Toussaint)
- The Sharpest Thorn (Costello-Toussaint)
- Who's Gonna Help Brother Get Further? (Toussaint)
- The River In Reverse (Costello)
- Freedom For The Stallion (Toussaint)
- Broken Promise Land (Costello-Toussaint)
- Ascension Day (Bird-Costello-Toussaint)
- International Echo (Costello-Toussaint)
- All These Things (Toussaint)
- Wonder Woman (Toussaint)
- Six-Fingered Man (Costello-Toussaint)
"The River in Reverse"
How long does a promise last?
How long can a lie be told?
What would I take in exchange for my soul?
Would I notice when it was sold?
Wake me up
Wake me up with a slap or kiss
There must be something better than this I don't see how it can get much worse
What do we have to do to send the river in reverse?