Elvis Costello has announced a new album, “Hey Clockface,” to come out Oct. 30, recorded partly — but not entirely — before the pandemic. The midnight announcement was accompanied by the release of a third song from the album, “We Are All Cowards Now,” joining a pair of songs released earlier this summer that are now known to not just be one-offs.
Of Costello’s longtime backup group, the Imposters, only Steve Nieve is present, as he recorded with different ensembles in Paris, Helsinki and New York during time away from touring duties. He is joined, however, by another alumnus of “Look Now,” the Grammy-winning album he did with the Imposters two years ago — co-producer Sebastian Krys, who, apart from his work with Costello, is best known for his work with Latin superstars.
“I wanted the record to be vivid, whether the songs demanded playing that was loud and jagged or intimate and beautiful,” Costello said in announcing the project.
“We Are All Cowards” now is, like the two singles that preceded it — “No Flag” and “Hetty O’Hara Confidential” — a solo recording that was put down at Suomenlinnan Studio in Helsinki in February of this year. But these three songs may not indicate a complete sonic direction for the album, as the rest of the numbers to come are band tracks.
After leaving Helsinki, Costello headed to Paris for a weekend of sessions at Les Studios Saint Germain. There, he worked with a group he dubbed “Le Quintette Saint Germain,” with Nieve — who assembled the ensemble for Costello and played his usual array of keyboards — joined by Mickaél Gasche on trumpet, flugel horn and serpent, Pierre-François “Titi” Dufour on cello, reed player Renaud-Gabriel Pion, and drums and percussion by Ajuq.