Secret, Profane & Sugarcane Image
Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics What's this?

User Score
6.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 8 Ratings

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  • Summary: T Bone Burnett returns as producer for Elvis Costello's latest album, featuring an acoustic strings band.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 21
  2. Negative: 1 out of 21
  1. Cut in Nashville with ace session players, what might have been a disastrous mess in other hands coheres into one of Costello's most satisfying releases in some time.
  2. 80
    Costello has again hauled material from diverse regions of his writing life into a strangely cohesive cornucopia. [Jul 2009, p.96]
  3. Elvis Costello has flirted with country music in the 28 years since his classic covers homage "Almost Blue," but "Secret" marks a full-blown return to Nashville with splendid results.
  4. With Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, Costello once again hits his mark and makes yet another case for his position among the greatest songwriters of his generation. [Summer 2009, p.65]
  5. Despite the occasional stuffiness, there's a lot of good material here and it's all executed well, but it's hard not to shake the feeling that this is a collection of leftovers masquerading as a main course.
  6. He is starting to concern me though, since this is the third album in a row that has left me wallowing in mild to severe disappointment.
  7. At its worst, this is effectively a contemporary acoustic neo-No-Depression record with Costello's signature vocal tics slapped on top.

See all 21 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 2 out of 3
  1. ConorD
    Jun 7, 2009
    8
    Approaches but never quite reaches perfection. Impeccable musicianship; for about the millionth time though, I wonder about Costello's vocals. This isn't one for fans of The Attractions, but like T-Bone Burnett's previous work, Raising Sand, it may well end up as the year's middle-class dinner party background. Expand
  2. DrewD
    Jun 7, 2009
    0
    I am a big Costello fan, but, like most of the distracting singer-songwriter tosh Barnes and Noble plays on repeat to keep people from reading in their stores, there is no reason for this album to exist and I think Costello knows that too. Like Rob Pollard, he seems content to just produce produce produce indiscriminately, refusing to sort the good (or even tolerable) from the crap. Elvis is a pop connoisseur; he knows the good from bad. So why would he release this? It's an album of nothing; I refuse to believe that he actually considers these a quality set of songs. Sure, the backing band does what a backing band should do, and the production is sufficient, and every now and then Costello says something half clever, but it's all decoration hiding the fact that nothing's there. Not a single song is a keeper. Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, hell, even Neil Young and to an extent Randy Newman prove that just because you're old doesn't mean you can't still put out some great (if not quite classic-quality) material. Costello is sadly not a part of that group. Expand
  3. TDG
    Jun 16, 2009
    0
    If you're going to make a country-themed album, you do it in Nashville. I get it. But I don't get this work from EC. The song cowritten with Loretta Lynn is interesting, but the Hans Christian Anderson angle combined with the twang = fail. There's not much to really love about the effort, although the band is fine as is EC's singing. But it's all rather carried out rather than enthusiastic. Why bother? Next. Expand