That Old Magic 8 ( 2011 )
Stoplight Roses / Checkout Time / House For Sale / Sensitive Man / I Read A Lot / Shame On The Rain / Restless Feeling / Poisoned Rose / Somebody Cares For Me / You Don't Know Me At All / Til' The Real Thing Comes Along
He has previously produced The Damned, Elvis Costello and The Pretenders during the post-punk era and is classed as something of a luminary of the British pub rock and new wave scenes. His own solo career never bettered the commercial heights of 'Cruel To Be Kind' which reached number 12 in 1979 yet thirteen solo albums down the line, thinking of Nick Lowe as a 'commercial' act is somewhat misplaced. He's respected and sells records but never strikes me as the kind of geezer that chases chart success, rather just creates his art, first and foremost. Guests on this album by the way include Ron Sexsmith, Jimmy Vaughan, Paul Carrack and Rory McLeod, among others.
Lyrically, 'That Old Magic' makes no bones about ageing, Nick Lowe is now 62 years young and doesn't try and shy away from the subject. Indeed, lead single 'Checkout Time' tackles it head on with the line 'I'm 61-years-old now, lord, i never thought i'd see 30'. The sound of the album overall is undemanding yet lovingly created with stylistic nods towards the past. Easy listening mixes with reggae and with country and folk-roots. A couple of songs, particularly the first and last remind this listener of Richard Hawley's last couple of records - acoustic guitar, wonderfully recorded and deeply resonate vocals and lyrics mattering more than the melodies, albeit simply and listenably lovely melodies at times. For instance, during 'Stoplight Roses', we have delicate shuffling and almost non-existant additional instrumentation, yet when it does appear it makes all the difference. The Johnny Cash shuffle of 'Checkout Time' is rockabilly and the album cover art is a classic slice of fifties nostalgia, a smartly dressed woman with arms wide and fingers pointing, doing the jive, perhaps?
'Somebody Cares For Me' is 50s nostalgia, a swinging ballroom type of song, complete with parping trumpets and touches of jazz and the caribbean. It's kind of like Elvis Presley's 'Wooden Heart', in a good way. The closing torch song 'Til The Real Thing Comes Along' mentions a dreamboat coming in and that you 'don't see me becoming him'. A succesion of great lines crop up and it's good to know songwriting can still be high-art and treated seriously by an artist in this lonely day and age we all live in. 'You Don't Know Me At All' is the one with the faint and faintly delicious ska/reggae feel and has some more glorious lyrical refrains it's worth purchasing the entire album just to hear.