All the words that are typically used to describe soul music fall short in trying to describe Erin Costelo’s new album. Soulful, smooth, silky, they fizzle in the face of her heartfelt lyrics and accomplished production team. With a background in classical and electronic music, Costelo is bringing it home and baring it all with Down Below, The Status Quo.
Allow your heart beat to settle, your breath to slow, grab a beaker of brandy and haul up next to the roaring fire. You’re also probably wearing a quilted robe over a sequinned dress, just waiting for the night to begin (editor’s note: sitting in a casino, wearing a tux, waiting for the double agent to make a wrong move). The album starts with the slow snaps of the track ‘Move’, graduates to the slow jams of ‘Worry Don’t Weigh Me Down’, and begins to heat up with salsa drums and jazz flute in the impassioned performance of ‘Low’.
“We said love would take us high, high, high, whoa-oa how did we end up so low?”
Through the lens of romance, Costelo explores every day conflicts: the struggle to make up our minds, the ever present voice of worry, the inescapable desire to start over. Continuing the story, the song ‘Fighter’ comes in with a chorus of consolation.
“Fighter, where do you go when the war is won? Oh fighter, when do you know if it’s over and done?”
Constantly toeing the line between melancholy and hope, each track stands on its own. That being said, as a whole, the album expresses a panorama of emotions, acting as a running commentary for the trials of all human existence in the context of one life.
“Up until this album, it has sort of felt like I’ve had a fragmented musical life,” Costelo says. “I would be using the tools I’d learned through studying classical and electronic music, while having an entirely separate career as a singer/songwriter. But on Down Below, The Status Quo, it feels as if all of these elements are synthesized for the first time. It’s like I’m presenting myself as a whole person.”
“We are a looking glass, we are the youthful past, we are a golden age, we are the final stage.”
Costelo is accomplishing what every artist hopes to with this, her fourth album—a project that accurately personifies her being. Costelo’s performance is effortlessly powerful. The dynamic production of the album creates so much ambiance, it’s hard not to imagine it being the sound track to the next James Bond movie.
Part Marvin Gaye, part Randy Newman, part 007.