Roots drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson first announced the album in an interview with Billboard in January, where he described the collaboration as “love at first sight.” He explained that the artists bonded during Costello’s three Late Night With Jimmy Fallon appearances, where the Roots serve as house band.
“The second time he came on, we surpassed the first one,” added Questlove. “So by the third time, he was like, ‘Let’s stop messing around and do something together.’”
The collaborators have been keeping the album under wraps over the past few months, even holding some recording sessions during the night.
“We had 13 or 14 songs, but then we said, ‘Ooh! Wait a minute! Let’s replace four of these songs with four better songs!” Questlove said in the interview. “And now we have the tightest 12-14 song collection out of about 20 songs that we made.”
The Roots have previously partnered with R&B artists John Legend and Betty Write on collaborative albums, but Wise Up Ghost will blend and bend genres with the “My Aim is True” singer. The Roots have backed everyone from Carly Rae Jepsen to Paul Simon during their Jimmy Fallon residency, with Costello dabbling everywhere from New Wave to Jazz.
With a combined 39 studio albums and 56 years in the industry between The Roots and Costello, the Steven Mandel-produced effort, according to Questlove, is “the shortest distance between here and there.”
The Roots’ upcoming & Then You Shoot Your Cousin is also due out in the next year.
- Nee-Sa Lossing, Radio.com