Turning 60 must have hit Nils Lofgren hard. His new album — the wiry guitarist’s first of original material in five years — finds him grousing about oldsters who try to extend their youth, young ‘uns who seem ungrateful, political values that radically change, and the uncomfortable wonder of living longer than you ever imagined. More than one song contains a reference to Lofgren’s double hip-replacement from a few years back.
Meaning it’s cat-nip for coots. Mercifully, Lofgren undercuts his frets and complaints with empathy and humility. He also matches his mental discomfort to melodies that sweetly flow and guitar playing that remains among the most fluid and underappreciated in his field.
Lofgren’s voice has coarsened over the years. He’s huskier now, closer in tone to his day-job “Boss,” Bruce. But his soloing retains its fleet sheen, from the hard, bluesy lines that flit through the title track to the tactile flickers that goose his comment on aging disgracefully (“60 Is The New 18″). Lofgren played most of the instruments, and wrote most of the songs, himself, though he gets backup shouts from Paul Rodgers and Sam Moore. And the album’s loveliest piece, “Irish Angel,” belongs to another scribe: Bruce McCabe. Even so, Lofgren shows how to wear the role of fogie like a badge of honor.