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Elvis Costello: Country to Classical

In a career that's spanned more than 20 years, Elvis Costello has distinguished himself as one of pop music's most prolific and versatile musicians. His numerous records have embraced elements of punk, jazz, country, gospel and classical. With two new CDs, The Delivery Man and Il Sogno, Costello continues to push musical boundaries. NPR's Michele Norris speaks with Costello about his new music.

Recorded in Oxford, Miss., The Delivery Man is rooted in country, blues and Southern Americana. The womanizing title character, who "looks like Elvis'' and "feels like Jesus," is revived from the song "Hidden Shame," which Costello wrote for Johnny Cash in 1986. The CD also includes duets with Nashville stars Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Costello's other new release is a full-length symphony based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Il Sogno, or The Dream, is a rhythmic, impressionistic work with touches of jazz. Originally commissioned in 2000 by the Italian dance company Aterbaletto, it is Costello's first full-length orchestral work.

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