Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Album of the Week: Lowe Country,the songs of Nick Lowe

Somehwere between disco and hair bands, rock and roll was in danger of losing its identity. Nick Lowe (and occasional bandmate Dave Edmunds) stepped into the musical void to remind Rock of its early country and rockabilly roots. Now country music has stepped up to honor this crossover legend. Fiesta Red Records has just released an alt country tribute album to Nick Lowe, entitled Lowe Country. Nick Lowe was well respected in the early 80's for bending musical genres and fusing rock, pop, and country (and off the beaten path lyrics) to create a distinctive hybrid sound before any kind of music was preceded by the term "alt." Some of Lowe's masterworks are reinterpreted (although his biggest hit, "Cruel To Be Kind," is mysteriously missing) on this album by many of today's emerging alt-country stars. Nick Lowe's music definitely stands the test of time, and it's refreshing to hear them arranged in a new way. Much of the pop influence has been scrubbed from the original versions on this album. In their place is a healthy dose of banjo and steel guitar. Alt Country darling Caitlin Rose does a yearning, almost Patsy Cline take on "Lately I've Let Things Slide." Hayes Carll does a steel guitar tinged version of "I'm Gonna Start Living Again If It Kills Me." Newcomers Chatham County Line do an ironic down home version of "Heart of the City." But the song that benefits the most from the alt-country love is "All Men Are Liars" by Robert Ellis. Ellis manages to stay true to both tone and tempo while somehow converting it from a tongue in cheek pop song to a straight up country "unplugged" number. Nick Lowe's songs sound fresh and new again here. And the album's musical lineup is a great introduction to many of today's new alt-country stars. And if that weren't enough incentive to check out this disc, Fiesta Records is donating proceeds to benenfit victims of the 2010 Nashville floods and 2011 Texas wild fires! So here's your chance to get goods while you do good!

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