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Review: Nick Lowe convincing as a crooner

Nick Lowe, "The Old Magic" (Yep Roc)
/ Source: The Associated Press

Nick Lowe, "The Old Magic" (Yep Roc)

Nick Lowe may no longer be the Jesus of Cool, as the title of his first album labeled him, but he's one of your hipper sexagenarians. "The Old Magic" provides proof with an outstanding batch of 11 songs that even the kids should find fly.

Like other rock artists of his generation, Lowe has taken to crooning, but rather than rehash too-familiar elevator music, he wrote his own songs for "The Old Magic." They're a terrific reminder that the middle of the road is for more than roadkill.

The tunes are filled with clever lyrical twists, a trademark Lowe shares with old crony Elvis Costello. On the opening cut, "Stoplight Roses," Lowe notes they're "a dead giveaway." His dignified deadpan delivery makes such observations that much more effective, and he's quite convincing as a lounge singer.

The arrangements are nicely varied, with touches of the other Elvis, Burt Bacharach, countrypolitan and old R&B. Sam Cooke would have been at home on a couple of cuts.

Sad ballads predominate, but Lowe cranks up the tempo a few times. "I'm 61 years old now," he sings on the twangy toe-tapper "Checkout Time." "Lord, I never thought I'd see 30." At 61, the old New Waver can still rock, even if it's turn-back-the-clock rock.

CHECK THIS OUT: Is the breakup ballad "House For Sale" melancholy or mirth? Lowe hints at playfulness when he name-drops his most famous 1970s composition in the coda.