Release Date: Sep 13, 2011
Record label: Yep Roc
With his latest, Nat "King" Cole would be a closer match. Devoting himself to songcraft with a master's ear, Lowe croons countrytinged ballads that might've been put in wax a half century ago. Sure, modern irony lurks in songs like "Checkout Time," where the aging narrator gets anxious over his chances of making it past heaven's gates. But like that song, Lowe's lyrical winks magnify his central truths.
_The spirits of Buddy Holly, Frank Sinatra and Chet Baker inspire Nick Lowe’snew album_ For more than three decades and despite all of the critical acclaim he’s receivedduring that time, Nick Lowe has been making music that flies right under mostpeople’s radar. And, that’s a shame because it’s hard to imagine a soul so hard-hearted and melody-challenged who wouldn’t find a lot to love in The Old Magic, Lowe’s first collection of new songs in four years. If you didn’t know any better, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to hear songs like “Checkout Time” or “Stoplight Roses” and think you were listening to recentlydiscovered treasures from the Sun Records vault or outtakes from a lost JohnnyCash recording from the ‘50s.
It seems likely that every review that will crop up like bunny rabbits in print or on the Web of Nick Lowe’s latest and 13th album, The Old Magic, will include the opening line from the lead single “Checkout Time”: “I’m 61-years-old now / Lord, I never thought I’d see 30”. (For the record, Lowe is now 62. ) Few, however, will probably include the lines that directly follow: “Though I know this road is still some way to go / I can’t help thinking on / Will I be beloved and celebrated for my masterly climb / Or just another bum when it comes to checkout time?” It’s a bit of a dark statement, that one of the post-punk icons from the late ‘70s is belly gazing as to whether his career has been a successful one.
Unlike many rockers, Nick Lowe has no quarrel with growing old. Once middle age hit, he happily abandoned any aspiration of chart success, choosing to settle into an elegantly old-fashioned groove carved out of American country, soul, and pre-Beatles pop. All these elements fell into place on 1998’s Dig My Mood, and 2011’s The Old Magic is his fourth successive LP minted from that mold.
There’s a resilient cheerfulness here, a very British refusal to take things seriously. Chris Roberts 2011 Whereas some singers resist the ageing process as if their careers depend on it – and in many cases they do – others embrace it, turn it to their advantage, and reinvent themselves as sage veterans, delivering wisdom and pathos in every world-weary line. The final Johnny Cash records did this best, but several senior crooners have tried since, with varying levels of conviction and success, from Neil Diamond to Tom Jones.
Once upon a time, Nick Lowe was a creative multi-tasker who bounced between twisting knobs for a number of artists (The Damned, The Pretenders) and pounding out jangly pub-rock alongside his drinking buddies in Brinsley Schwarz and Rockpile. During this time, Lowe was embraced by music aficionados while being overlooked as a commercial artist save for his sole Top 40 hit, 1979’s “Cruel to Be Kind. ” Consciously wanting to avoid becoming an aging rocker desperate to hold onto the past, the witty Englishman has spent the past two decades recasting himself as a country music-flavored crooner content to sing about living and loving during the autumnal years of life.