On his first album since 2001's The Convincer, Nick Lowe croons country confidences like a comfortably sozzled barfly in a bespoke suit. He wants redemption, and he's willing to sit in judgment to attain it. "There's no new leaves for me to turn over," he confesses right off the bat in "A Better Man," a Lowe original worthy of Ray Price or Porter Wagoner. "I'm in a prison built by my own hand." And the nine Lowe originals on this album prove him a master craftsman indeed. In "I Trained Her to Love Me," a cad blames his serial betrayals on the grief caused him by womankind, a bitterness recalled in its follow-up, "The Club" ("If you ever awake to find you've been living in a dream/ One in which no one can hear you scream, join the club").
Chrissie Hynde joins Lowe for the album's pre-Socratic centerpiece, "People Change." ("That's the long and short of it, prepare yourself for it or get bit.") "Hope for Us All" and "Rome Wasn't Built in a Day" reflect this silver fox's hard-earned wisdom and patience. Recorded with his longtime band, At My Age has a slow- cooked, laid-back sound, even when horns and strings are added to the mix. And I doubt he consciously chose Charlie Feathers '"The Man in Love," the Uniques hit "Not Too Long Ago," and the Faron Young single "Feel Again" to make his own output sound even better in comparison, but I'm afraid they do. This rake is aging well.