Wed, Nov 14, 2012.
Wow, what happened to Erin Costelo? She took a big soul pill is what, and now we find out the Halifax singer-songwriter had a secret inner Marvelette or something. Costelo has made a disc that combines rich soul sounds with classic 60's pop production. There's a bit of several touchstones in the ten songs. The production and arrangements mimic big classic radio hits, whether soul ballads (Give A Little) or girl group fun (Count To 10). There are strings, big backing vocals, Bacharachian moments galore. And to give it the most accurate sound, the tunes were recorded on tape, and mixed to mono!
The joy here is how much fun and love Costelo puts into the project. Arranging, writing and producing it all (okay, there's one cover), she's somehow managed to come up with numbers you'd swear were by your heroes. Everybody Wants To Be (In Love) could have had a Otis Redding credit on it, and I wouldn't have blinked. And it's fascinating how much her voice, always distinct, fits this material with its lower strength. She's moaning and grooving like a Bettye Lavette or Mavis Staples at times. The background singers are a grand touch as well, giving everything more vintage appeal. At other times she has a jazz touch to her voice, mostly just because she's such a fine melody singer, finding notes between the chords (I Don't Know Anything, the most Dusty song here).
It's like we're living in an alternate universe, when Costelo was the 60's soul star from Halifax who had a teen hit in 1962, got on Ed Sullivan, signed to Atlantic Records, worked with Jerry Wexler, recorded at Muscle Shoals Studio, and retired. The songs are even presented in that order, with the oldest styles at the start, and the more funky numbers coming at the end. If that was the plan, it's perfect, the whole project is a perfect concept, and I'd be thrilled to hear more.
You can catch Costello in concert Thursday, Nov. 15 at Plan B in Moncton, Saturday, the 17th at the Cedar Tree in Fredericton, and Sunday the 18th at the All Saints Anglican Church in St. Andrews.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).