Nick Lowe The Old Magic

Nick Lowe The Old Magic
It has been four years since Lowe's last studio album, At My Age, but this album reaffirms he still has that old magic. The former luminary of the British pub rock and new wave scenes has mellowed into a relaxed crooner of rare excellence (Willie Nelson might be an apt comparison). His style now fuses classic easy-listening pop and country strains with gentle ease. In other hands, the backing vocals and tinkling sounds of "Restless Feeling" would turn it into cocktail pop kitsch, but here it convinces. Lowe's voice manages to be both melancholy and warm, and he varies the instrumentation nicely. Jaunty keyboards and horns spice up "Somebody Cares For Me," while strings and trumpet embellish "I Read A Lot." Guests include Paul Carrack (Squeeze), Ron Sexsmith and Jimmie Vaughan, a guy with a great feel for retro styles. Lowe remains a masterful wordsmith, as on the imagery of "Stoplight Roses," and he mines such familiar themes as mortality ("Checkout Time") and divorce ("House For Sale"). Covers of songs by his pal Elvis Costello and Tom T. Hall ("Shame on the Rain") also fit nicely. This is another excellent addition to a double-digit discography with few rivals. (Yep Roc)