I try to imagine crowds watching Costello in his young punk days belting out ‘Pump It Up’ and then immediately fast-forwarding to this, or his classic country album, or his collaboration with Burt Bacharach. The man has certainly carved out a unique career path.
1993’s The Juliet Letters wasn’t a pop album with strings, it was a suite composed for strings and vocals. And if Costello’s voice sometimes had to strain to hit the operatic notes he composed, so be it.
Costello got the idea to write an album of correspondence after hearing a story about a professor in Verona who took it upon himself to answer the many letters still addressed to Shakespeare’s Juliet that reach the Italian town. That story gave the album its title, though the Juliet connection shows up on just a couple of songs. The rest take the form of letters of one sort or another, including a piece of junk mail.