Rolling Stone - p.744 stars out of 5
-- "Recorded in Nashville in three days, it's tight and uncluttered, with fiddle and dobro accenting jaunty bluegrass-folk corkers such as 'Hidden Shame.'"
Spin - p.88
"With alchemical highlights that include back-porch footstompers, torchy weepers, and a tenderhearted, set-closing waltz, SECRET testifies to the merits of aging gracefully."
Billboard (p.33) - "[On] 'My All Time Doll,' one of the strongest cuts, Jeff Taylor's accordion shades the desperation in Costello's lyric with just the right amount of sarcasm."
Q (Magazine) - p.1183 stars out of 5
-- "[The album is] reminiscent of ALMOST BLUE's country covers, recorded nearly three decades ago....All good stuff..."
Record Collector (magazine) - pp.80-813 stars out of 5
-- "[A] weighty addition to a body of work that continues to buck trends and restlessly seek out fresh adventures."
Uncut (magazine)4 stars out of 5
-- "'Red Cotton,' the last of the Andersen songs, is the most gripping ballad entry....[This is] his most engaging album in a very long time."
Personnel: Jeff Taylor , Jerry Douglas , Mike Compton, Stuart Duncan, Dennis Crouch.
Audio Mixer: Mike Piersante.
Audio Remasterer: Gavin Lurssen.
One of Elvis Costello's most interesting studio outings was the quietly-received 1986 sleeper KING OF AMERICA, a down-to-earth affair produced sympathetically by T-Bone Burnett, who knows how to bring out the best in singer-songwriters. Rematched here with Burnett (who co-wrote a few tracks), Costello bares his Americana soul on an unerring set of string-band roots numbers that resonate with authenticity and heart.
Themes of rejection, tainted love, and other strains of emotional disquietude flow through the songs, and the humble, sad melodies are supported by the aching cry of violin, dobro, and accordion, provided by Costello's backing band, the Sugarcanes (including Jim Lauderdale on vocals). Some of the songs began their life as part of a chamber opera that Costello wrote for the Royal Danish Opera about the doomed romance of Hans Christian Andersen and singer Jenny Lind, some are acousticized version of older albums tracks, and some are brand new, but each track crackles with the same shirt-sleeve torch and twang and inspired musicianship. Standouts include the country cheatin' waltz "I Felt the Chill," co-written with Loretta Lynn, and the boastful strut of "Sulphur to Sugar Cane."