Nick Lowe, The Old Magic

Posted on October 14, 2011 by

Artist: Nick Lowe
Title: The Old Magic
Label: Yep Roc 2248
Released: September 13, 2011

“Because with time, care, cash, peace, love and understanding, it could be as good as new,” sings Nick on “House For Sale,” a song with autobiographical facts leading to what was viewed as Lowe’s comeback. In 1992, the soundtrack to the Whitney Houston / Kevin Costner film, The Bodyguard was released. On the album Curtis Stigers recorded a version of “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love & Understanding.” The soundtrack spent twenty weeks at number one and sold over fifteen million copies. Mr. Lowe hit paydirt. It’s no mistake that the word ‘cash’ precedes ‘peace, love and understanding.’

1994 the comeback started with the release of The Impossible Bird. 17 years later with the albums Dig My Mood, The Convincer, Untouched Takeaway (live), and At My Age in his canon, Lowe releases, The Old Magic. “I’m sixty-one years old now, Lord I never thought I’d see thirty,” claims Lowe on “Checkout Time;” a song reflecting on mortality, which is appropriate for anyone at sixty-one.

From the pub rock scene with Brinsley Schwarz to the house producer at Stiff Records to Berry-based roots rock with Rockpile, to the supergroup, Little Village, Nick has successfully shifted from one phase of his career to the next. From 1998’s Dig My Mood to his current release, we find Lowe gracefully becoming Matt Monro recording at Bradley’s Barn but without strings.

Nick’s compositions “I Read A lot” would suit k.d. lang, “’Til the Real Thing Comes Along” would melt in the mouth of Raul Malo, and “Checkout Time” sounds like it was written for Buck Owens. Lowe also goes onto cover Tom T. Hall’s “Shame on the Rain” and you can hear Hall’s influence in Lowe’s “You Don’t Know Me At All.”

“Sensitive Man,” comes complete with a Floyd Cramer piano chop (compliments of Geraint Watkins) and some slight Mariachi horns and marimbas during the instrumental break. This would have been a hit in 1964 with the forty-year olds, but Nick’s wit would’ve fluttered over their heads.

“Restless Feeling, the opening track on side two of the album, starts with a rather Esquivalian chorus and then dances along to a Brazilian vibe, appropriate for the June Taylor Dancers. “Somebody Cares For Me” moves to a similar rhythm of Nick’s “Half A Boy and Half A Man.” And that’s about as speedy as it gets because I think this LP is built for comfort.

If you pick up the vinyl version, it’s pressed at 45 rpms with wide grooves and it sounds spectacular. Yep Roc should’ve leased the RCA Living Stereo logo for this release.

Leave a Reply