Home Read Albums Of The Week: Elvis Costello | Hey Clockface

Albums Of The Week: Elvis Costello | Hey Clockface

The eclectic & prolific tunesmith’s 31st studio set is a truly international affair.

226

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Hey Clockface was recorded in Helsinki, Paris and New York and mixed by Sebastian Krys in Los Angeles.

The journey begins in Finland: Following the solo recording of No Flag, Hetty O’Hara Confidential and We Are All Cowards Now at Suomenlinnan Studio, Helsinki by Eetü Seppälä in February 2020, Costello immediately traveled to Paris for a weekend session at Les Studios Saint Germain. Costello tells us, “I sang live on the studio floor, directing from the vocal booth. We cut nine songs in two days. We spoke very little. Almost everything the musicians played was a spontaneous response to the song I was singing. I’d had a dream of recording in Paris like this, one day.”

The ensemble, dubbed Le Quintette Saint Germain by Costello, was recruited for these dates by Steve Nieve (who plays grand piano, upright piano, organ, mellotron & melodica) features Mickaél Gasche on trumpet, flugel horn and serpent, Pierre-François ‘Titi’ Dufour on cello and the drums, percussion and high harmonies of Ajuq. Reed player Renaud-Gabriel Pion brought many tones and colours to the performances, playing, contrabass clarinet, bass clarinet, Bb clarinet, tenor saxophone, bass flute and cor anglais. The Paris sessions were recorded by François Delabrière.

Photo by Lens O’Toole.

The New York sessions were produced by composer, arranger and trumpet player Michael Leonhart in collaboration with guitarists Bill Frisell and Nels Cline and completed, lyrically and vocally by Costello “via Electrical Wire.”
“I wanted to write “Helsinki-Paris-???” on the record jacket like this was a perfume or an advertising agency. London was a possibility for the third city but London is forever. We’ll be there again. Michael sent this music to me from New York at the perfect time. It connected to elements in both of the previous sessions and completed the picture.” Speaking of the emotional and dynamic range of the record, Costello said, “I wanted the record to be vivid, whether the songs demanded playing that was loud and jagged or intimate and beautiful.”

The assembled album, Hey Clockface is “An Elvis Costello & Sebastian Krys production” following on from their work together on Elvis Costello and The ImpostersGrammy-winning album Look Now. The motion picture of We Are All Cowards Now by Eamon Singer & Arlo McFurlow features images of flowers & pistols, smoke & mirrors, tombstones & monuments, courage & cowardice, peace love and misunderstanding.”