I finally managed to nab another of the scant Nick Lowe albums in the used bins where I stretch what little of my music buying dollar I have. I now own a less-than-impressive four Nick Lowe albums. One from his “classic” era. One from his “middle period” and two of his “elder statesman” albums that commenter Tim favors so much.
#8 • Nick Lowe: At My Age US CD 
- A Better Man
- Long Limbed Girl
- I Trained Her To Love Me
- The Club
- Hope For Us All
- People Change
- The Man In Love
- Love’s Got A Lot To Answer For
- Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day
- Not Too Long Ago
- The Other Side Of The Coin
- Feel Again
The very title marks this one as being conspicuously concerned with the artist’s maturity, so the rocker that made “Jesus Of Cool” is nowhere to be seen here; nearly 30 years later. I have the follow up album to this one, “The Old Magic,” an don that one, it sounded to me like Nick was interested in exploring the territory that Nat “King” Cole had staked out over 60 years ago. This one, while just as mellow, had its nose buried deep in the countrypolitan playbook with the scant, minimal accompaniment expending the least amount of energy necessary to keep the whole shebang afloat.
Front and center was Nick’s warm, approachable vocal, with Steve Donnelly’s minimal lead guitar barely leaving a melody in its wake. Similarly, the piano of Geraint Watkins conjured up the essence of Floyd Cramer with the least amount of notes necessary. This was relaxed music that was all about the lowest expenditure of energy possible.
While most of it favored a countrypolitan slant, there were exceptions. The great horn section got to carry a lot of water on the track “Hope For Us All” when the sound shifted, subtly, into Memphis Soul thanks to the winning horn section of Matt Holland on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Martin Winning [no, I didn’t know his name before I looked it up] on tenor sax and clarinet.
The closest thing to a roots check for Lowe here was the gentle rockabilly of the Charlie feathers cover “The Man In Love.” Other than that, the rest of the album sat fat in the middle of a gentle countrypolitan sound. Only the occasional sardonic lyric revealed the Nick Lowe of olde, as on “I Trained Her To Live Me” with its lyrics from the point of view of an embittered cad who delighted in “paying back” women for the wrongs done to him. The dissonance that the ugly lyric caused with the smooth music was not delightful, but such lapses were scant here. For the most part Lowe was in a self-reflective mood as on the opening “A Better Man.”
I enjoy the mellow Nick as much as the rocking Nick, but I have to admit that I much preferred the subsequent album, “The Old Magic” [in spite of this one having an infinitely better cover]. Hitting the 1968 countrypolitan target was not as impressive an achievement to these ears as 1961 Nat “King” Cole’s style on the later album. It is astonishing to hear a performer owe up to his aging as the cover clearly makes plain here, and for that Nick is fairly unique.