Rarely has a collaboration been so important as this one. Neither artist had expected some critical and commercial success for some time by this point, and although a collaborative effort seemed risky, it was actually a really good idea. This album is a great listen and just goes to show that when two geniuses of a style of music work together in harmony, great results can be achieved musically. Let’s dive in and have a listen.
We begin with In The Darkest Place which begins with some beautiful piano and horn sections, before Elvis Costello begins singing in a very beautiful way. It’s a great song about some of the darkest moments one can have in a relationship. Burt Bacharach is the master of breakup songs, and this sounds brilliant. It builds up into superb orchestral pop, and Elvis Costello sings effortlessly here. A great piece of music, nice to hear this begin the album.
Next is Toledo which is a more subtle piece with acoustic guitars and quiet beats. Some horns and other instrumentation enter the scene, making this truly magical. This is really excellent, two superb musicians working well in a good musical setting. There are some horns and female backing vocals as well, and this is an excellent piece of music. Although the subject matter is about heartbreak, it is a great listen. Excellent song.
I Still Have That Other Girl begins with beautiful piano and singing from Elvis Costello. It is about being in love with someone else whilst loving a lady. An interesting subject matter, it bursts into a beautiful orchestral section and key change makes this a great listen. Superb.
This House Is Empty Now begins with a slow and melancholy sounding string section with accordion in the background. It talks about a breakup at hand, and sounds very tragic. It is an excellent song about a breakup situation, and is very sad lyrically. The piano is charming and irresistible to listen to. It sounds really good, and demands listening. A short electric guitar solo emerges in this song, before leading into the rest of the song. A fantastic effort and a great breakup song.
Following is Tears At The Birthday Party which begins with lush orchestration and a beautiful saxophone, before launching into a piece of wonderful orchestral pop. Elvis Costello sings excellently here, and his voice fits these songs perfectly. It is a really excellent song and sounds awesome, although it is tragic lyrically. Great effort here. The whole thing sounds gorgeous.
After that is Such Unlikely Lovers which is a great slice of beautiful, melodic and orchestral pop music about the said topic. There is some subtle electric guitar work here in the background, showcasing a brilliant sense of musicality by both Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach here. This is a great slice of orchestral led pop, something which is often overlooked by most music lovers today. Excellent song.
My Thief is a story about dreaming about a lover. It’s a great piece of music to hear and is matched by the orchestral based instrumentation. It is a compelling and interesting listen, one cannot help being moved by it. The drumbeats kick in the second section of the song, which lead up to the finale. Incredibly good, a great listen here. A female vocal towards the end reassures one that all will be okay. Sad, but beautiful music.
The Long Division has a good organ sound in it, before leading into a well structured piece about lying in bed at night, thinking through romantic problems. It is another superb piece of well thought and delivered music. There are bongos and other subtle musical touches here galore. The keyboard solo is interesting, making this somewhat a different piece than the other songs here. “Did somebody say…can we still be friends?” is chanted to the finish. Great song.
The title track Painted From Memory has some great vocal melodies and lyrics to match, before launching into a very good piece of melodic pop music. It’s about missing a lover long gone. The orchestral sections on this song, and album, are really divine. It just goes to show the effort throughout this album, beautiful and superb sounding melodies and instrumentation. Fantastic effort. A sad song indeed.
Following is The Sweetest Punch begins with some slightly more upbeat instrumentation before launching into a tale of disappointment and heartbreak. The whole piece is wonderful, and just sounds terrific, despite the tragedy of the song. It is an extreme example of what goes on in an extremely bad relationship. Once again, superb.
What’s Her Name Today? begins with beautiful piano and asks the question of a long lost lover’s missing presence in one’s life. Elvis Costello really sings superbly here, he is a totally underrated musician and artist, as is Burt Bacharach. The piece is majestic in amongst tragedy, it sounds wonderful and fantastic. It is a tale of frustration and desperation. The outro sounds magnificent.
God Give Me Strength is the last song on the album. Honestly, this album and song are amazing. A great song to finish off this wonderful listening experience. It is a beautiful and original listening experience, and the song asks for strength in dark times of one’s love life. A nice way to finish off a beautiful album and listening experience. A very memorable and wonderful listen, and a musical plea for love to return. Elvis Costello’s singing on this song is top notch.
This is a really excellent listening experience, unlike many other listening experiences out there. Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach lifted their games respectively, and delivered a wonderful and excellent album to listen to about heartbreak. If you are looking for beauty, this is it. A great album from start to finish.