Elvis Costello may never recapture the purebred firepower of his initial creative outburst (1977-1980), but that doesn't mean it isn't satisfying to hear him try. For The Delivery Man, he teamed up with former Attractions Steve Nieve on keyboards and Pete Thomas on drums, plus Davey Farragher on bass, then settled into a room in Oxford, Mississippi to cut as many live tracks as possible. Costello gets a tense band sound that helps him achieve that paranoid edge. "Monkey to Man" charts with an R&B groove, "Button My Lip" stews with political futility, and the duets with Emmylou Harris ("Nothing Clings Like Ivy," "Heart Shaped Bruise") and Lucinda Williams ("There's A Story in Your Voice") represent the best material Costello's worked with in years. Costello initially claimed this was a "concept" album about a deliveryman in the American South who has a series of relationships. However, Costello's subsequent admission that he switched the song order and deleted a few key tracks means few will be able to actually follow any concept beyond the fact that these songs all sound as if they belong hanging together side by side.