Pop Culture Gadabout
Sunday, September 02, 2007
      ( 9/02/2007 06:59:00 AM ) Bill S.  


"CUT YOURSELF A SLICE OF REALITY." When it comes to Nick "Basher" Lowe, my bias leans strongly toward the amazing slabs of rock 'n' pop he performed and produced in his Rockpile days. Jesus of Cool, Labor of Lust, Rockpile's Seconds of Pleasure: all of these discs have provided considerably more than seconds of pleasure in my life since their release in the D.I.Y. era, and I don't see that changing any time soon. Even Lowe's sorta reunion with Rockpile guitarman Dave Edmunds, 1989's Party of One, played off his ability to slip seemingly offhanded, yet sly lyrics onto an energetic roots rock base. To my ears, it's the last purely fun Nick Lowe release.

But "People Change," as the man himself notes in the middle of the aptly titled At My Age (Yep Roc), and yesterday's hard-playin' rocker can mature into a more overtly contemplative crooner. Ever since 1994's The Impossible Bird, Lowe has moved into a moodier country sound, one that owes more to mariachi horns and Geraint Watkins' quiet organ fills than it does Dave Edmunds' rockabilly guitar licks, and Age is the fourth studio release to focus on this approach. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense that the onetime bassist for seventies country pubbers Brinsley Schwartz would ultimately turn to a bare-bones country sound, but tell it to the fans who still love "So It Goes."

Though I continue to hold a strong preference for the "Pure Pop" Nick, I've gotta admit that this new disc has grown on me - despite several weeks of active resistance on my part. Of all the stripped down countrified Lowes (Dig My Mood and The Convincer being the other two in this quartet), Age most consistently matches its sound with theme. This is a middle-aged guy looking back at his own life, at the places that he's been or could've been. Whether adopting the persona of a misogynist lothario taking his revenge on womankind ("I Trained Her to Love Me"), going through a desk and pondering the young beauty in some old photo ("Long Limbed Girl") or wondering in amazement that his "feckless" self could actually find love ("Hope for Us All"), there's a directness to these songs that probably would've been beyond the reach of the ironic wise-acre who once wrote a Hollywood Babylon-inspired song about an actress suicide devoured by her pet dachshund.

Lowe's more openhearted lyrical approach carries Age even through a couple of its more underwhelming tracks ("Love's Got A Lot to Answer For"). But it really holds on those cuts where the singer/songwriter takes a more overtly soulful tack, looking to Memphis greats like Dan ("I'm Your Puppet") Penn for his inspiration. "Hope" and "Change" provide the big one/two punch here, the latter additionally buoyed by Chrissie Hynde's backing vocals, while a cover of the Uniques' 1965 regional hit "Not Too Long Ago" also bolsters the disc just when it threatens to flag from one too many ruminative country lounge cuts. Lowe may be a mature man o' music these days, but he still maintains enough pop smarts to keep from descending into his own navel.

"If I've done all the things they say I've done," Lowe croons with Nat King Cole-styled smoothness in Age's penultimate track, "I'd be in the ground or on the run." For too many former rockers a retreat from the wild life often seems to come at the expense of their music. Before At My Age, to be honest, I'd have put Lowe in that camp, but damned if the man hasn't proven me wrong. If I'll still wanna play "Cruel to Be Kind" more often than the redemptive "A Better Man," I know there are plenty of occasions when the newer track will speak to me, too. Leave it to a onetime half-a-boy-and-half-a-man to show that age doesn't necessarily have to be the ultimate musical killjoy.
# |



Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).



On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:



A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page







Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Attentiondeficitdisorderly
Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

BeaucoupKevin
Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog
Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Bookgasm
Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Comics.212
Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine

Egon

Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery

Estoreal
RAB

Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section
Hal

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures
Pata

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Journalista
Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett

Metrokitty
Kitty

Michael's Movie Palace
Michael

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag

Neilalien

News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

PeterDavid.net
Peter David

(postmodernbarney.com)
Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Rhinoplastique
Marc Bernardin

Scrubbles
Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren
Campaspe

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby

TangognaT

The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter



A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.




My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Alicublog
Roy Edroso

Eschaton
Atrios

Firedoglake
Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman

Modulator
Steve

Pandagon
Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo
Skippy

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends



Blogcritics: news and reviews
Site Feed



Powered by Blogger



Twittering:
    follow me on Twitter