Elvis Costello Releases Hey Clockface

Tammy Brown
01 Jul , 2021

Elvis Costello Hey Clockface


I went to the store, ordered, Visa said Yes and the yellow vinyl package is on the way. I can’t wait.

Is it perhaps coincidence that this on very weekend I was very pleased to find a UK pressing of his Armed Forces at a local record vendor? And then to simultaneously find out that a new delicious box set of this seminal third album is about to released? HelloSanta?

In the meantime, the digital stream of Hey Clockface will have to do, and it’s just fine (in lieu of any better option until the vinyl arrives).

Where to begin? The album is full of the best of what Elvis does best. It is deep. It is mighty. It’s got groove. Wait. Groove? Oh yes. I offer his Newspaper Pane as evidence that our Elvis is clearly firing on ALL cylinders. His writing and voice are in top form. The album is deliciously mature and rich. And, I had oft-wondered about the state of Elvis’s career since he had fallen in love with our own Diana Krall, moved to Vancouver Island, had twin boys and lead a seemingly quieter life. 

Is pain necessary to create art? Listening to the new Hey Clockface album, it’s easy to imagine the home of Elvis Costello, Diana Krall and their two 13-year old twin sons, filled with music and goodness. It feels like this album is a direct reflection of a time where the performer’s life is as good as it can possibly be. They had met through Elton John, who introduced the two at the Grammys in 2002. Costello and Krall married in 2003 at Elton John's castle in Surrey, outside of London. But in the meantime, Hey Clockface is no filler, but rather a statement that one maybe doesn’t really need angst to create art. Not here anyway. If I ever had the chance to interview Mr. MacManus I would certainly ask him his thoughts on this very thing.

Listening to the stream, it seems obvious that side one of the album will end on “The Whirlwind” while Hetty O’Hara Confidential feels like the obvious choice for opening side two. Hey Clockface deftly combines the best qualities of a craftsman’s 4 decades of creating original music. This album sounds like no one but Elvis Costello. He owns every song on this album, in its entirety.

The album opens with the spoken word Revolution #49. Another spoken pause appears in the form of “Paper Plane”. It is immediate and works as both a break in the music and the revelation that the power of Costello’s voice cannot be understated. Revealing, iconic and ironic all at once.

At 50 minutes the album is over and it doesn’t seem nearly long enough. Happily, I hit play once more and move on with the day… Somehow, it’s not yet 9am.

Although impossible to fathom, I missed the recent Grammy-winning Look Now album so I can’t comment on it yet, But today, I’m ALL IN on Hey Clockface. It’s the album that all his previous albums could have been, if they had been this album.

Delicious, warm vocals, saucy guitar, rich keyboards and complex textures make this my new favourite album. Don’t deny yourself a second longer. Get it.

5 out of 5 stars

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