Recorded in New Orleans and in Los Angeles last November and December, The River in Reverse is a musical meeting of two fine minds, two strong hearts, and two compassionate spirits. The only overtly, albeit obliquely, political songs are the title song ("How long does a promise last? How long can a lie be told?") and the collaboratively written "Broken Promise Land" ("In the name of the Father and the Son/In the name of gasoline and gun"). But all the songs, even the older ones, take on a political resonance in this postdiluvian context. In the opening song, a cover of Lee Dorsey's recording of Toussaint's "On the Way Down," Costello leaves out the word girl in the second verse, and, all at once, a song that used to be about an uppity woman who left the old neighborhood behind turns into a song about the high and the mighty due for a fall: "It's high time that you found/The same dudes you misuse on your way up/You might meet up on your way down."
For Bush, Blanco, Nagin, and anyone else who might have forgotten that lesson, Elvis and Allen are here to testify.
[Review published June 2006]