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Nick Lowe - The Old Magic

  by Lisa Torem

published: 10 / 9 / 2011

Nick Lowe - The Old Magic
Label: Proper Records
Format: CD


Understated yet powerful and elegant first album in five years of country-tinged rock from Nick Lowe

British recording artist, singer-songwriter and producer Nick Lowe is known for pioneering the genre of “pub rock.” His contagious pop hit, ‘Cruel to be Kind’ charted in the U.S. and ‘(What’s so Funny ‘bout) Peace, Love and Understanding’ became a signature song for Elvis Costello in 1979 - Lowe and Costello’s partnership was also noteworthy because Lowe produced his first five recordings. Lowe has also performed with John Hiatt, Ry Cooder and Jim Keltner with the Little Village recording project. His marriage to Carlene Carter ended in the late 1990s, but his relationship to the Cash contingent is apparent in many of his songs. He almost clones Cash vocally in many of the numbers. In 2010 he embarked on a rare U.S. tour in which pianist Geraint Watkins was a featured collaborator. Also on the tour were Robert Treherne (drums), Johnny Scott (guitar) and Matt Radford(bass). Now, in Lowe’s recent undertaking, 'The Old Magic' he concentrates fully on ballads with the unwavering support of the same team, plus additional flavouring from contemporaries like Jimmie Vaughan. “You started something this time stoplight roses can’t mend” is one touching line from the first song. ‘Stoplight Roses’ is a classic ballad which blends imagery with just the right amount of sentimentality. ‘Checkout Time’ is full of clever word play, and ‘House for Sale’ borders on being a tearjerker. “I’ve had enough/I’ll send a van to get my stuff.” “You don’t have to speak/You can say it with a look,” Lowe exclaims in ‘Sensitive Man.’ Like many of the songs on this album, the production is quite unassuming with tasteful piano, courtesy of Watkins, and vintage backing vocals. More pathos is found in ‘I Read a Lot’. An understated horn arrangement fleshes out Lowe’s thoughtful aches. Tom T. Hall’s ‘Shame on the Rain’ seems a bit more country; a hat that Lowe wears well. He seems to love going back in time to the olden days with ‘Restless Feelings’ in which he states: “I’ve got wonder dust all in my shoes.” Lowe throws himself completely into the Elvis Costello cover, ‘Poisoned Rose.’ His generally mellow voice becomes more potent as he sings, “If all I can do is save pieces of you…” The loopy bass line and snazzy organ make ‘Somebody Cares for Me’ – co-written by Watkins, another treat. One more cover, by Jim West, ‘You don’t know me at all’ features Lowe’s infectious drawl. ‘Til The Real Thing Comes Along’ is a perfect closer. ‘The Old Magic’ has a slow-moving elegance that is all too rare these days. Savour and enjoy this one – though knowing Nick Lowe’s prolific history, it won’t be long until another theme rushes in.

Track Listing:-
1 Stoplight Roses
2 Checkout Time
3 House For Sale
4 Sensitive Man
5 Read A Lot
6 Shame On The Rain
7 Restless Feeling
8 The Poisoned Rose
9 Somebody Cares For Me
10 You Don't Know Me At All
11 'Til The Real Thing Comes Along

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