Nick Lowe, The Old Magic. Nick Lowe knows. He just does. He knows what makes music touch people so deeply, and knows how to get there. Just as importantly, he absolutely knows when to stop, and not allow a song to go too far after it's made its mark. That is just as big a gift as the original inspiration, and can make the difference between a great all-time artist and someone who gets lucky now and then.
When you look at the oh-so-English Englishman's entire career, there aren't many that hit his high standard. Lowe has written some of the best songs of the last 40 years, and he continues to reach that high mark on all his recent releases. The Old Magic is right there with them, an impeccable collection of 11 tracks that burrow their way into the heart and bounce around there with overwhelming results.
Love is a many splendored thing, so it's said, but it also has the ability to blow a soul apart. And Nick Lowe has found a way to express that feeling, from the giddy joy of a new sweetheart to what can happen when the sky turns black and the streets no longer shine. These originals, along with covers of Elvis Costello, Tom T. Hall and Jim West classics, are adult music for the lovers in all of us. They are aimed at people who've lived their lives with romantic adventure, and are often left looking back at where those paths have taken them. Good and bad, happy and sad, Lowe knows where love goes. Bless his beating heart.
Brigitte DeMeyer, Rose of Jericho. A singer-songwriter who still somehow flies under the radar, each album sounds like the one to change that. Brigitte DeMeyer combines the soft beauty of Emmylou Harris with the more rough and tumble take of Lucinda Williams. It's a rareified air, and somehow, someway, someday has to break through. Rose of Jericho could well be the album to do just that.
Produced with percussionist Brady Blade, the band includes Nashville A-teamers Sam Bush, Mike Henderson, Will Kimbrough, Al Perkins and others, coming across like a secret squad finally coming into the daylight. When musicians are this good it turns everything up a few notches. On "Fix I'm In" or "Sip Molasses" or any of the other songs, they could easily be hidden gems from the '60s or something coming from right around the corner up ahead. It's a timeless turn on America's backwoods sound.
At the center of many of these songs is the belief of life everlasting. Brigitte DeMeyer has looked long and hard at what is happening all around her, but keeps an eye on the prize of what can still be. The spiritual strength of someone who has high hopes, no matter how hard it gets, shores this music up like steel beams and sunshine daydreams. This lady will not back down. Now it's only a matter of everyone else catching on.
The Beatles, 1. The big news is that this album makes its digital debut this week. Never mind its the world's best-selling album of the past decade, but what has changed is that it is now available on iTunes. The world is back to buying songs one at a time, and it feels like deja vu all over again. When the Beatles started, singles were king. They'd soon change that forever with albums like Rubber Soul, Revolver and, of course, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The idea of 27 number one songs on a single set is formidable, but when it's the Beatles it feels like a fast-forward version of the '60s. Starting in April '64 in the U.S., the Fab Four invaded our land and brains with "Love Me Do" and stayed at the top of the charts for the next seven years, right through "The Long and Winding Road" in April '70. That might seem like a short time now, but then it was eternity. It felt like there would never be another decade. How could there be with so much happening then.
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