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***NICK LOWE"Party of One”, RepriseThere’s always...

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NICK LOWE

“Party of One”, Reprise

There’s always been a laissez-faire quality to Lowe’s records, as he has tended to coast on his knack for fooling with roots-pop styles and his gift for a witty turn of a phrase. This, though, is the first time he’s sounded like he really really wanted to make a record since his giddy 1978 solo debut, “Pure Pop for Now People.”

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And why shouldn’t he when he gets to play with guitarist Ry Cooder and drummer Jim Keltner (both of whom he first worked with on John Hiatt’s “Bring the Family”), under the attentive but non-interfering production of his former Rockpile mate Dave Edmunds? The songs still sometimes sound more found than written, but Lowe has gone to rewarding effort to customize some numbers for the extraordinary players.

And, as with much of his work, the flippant wit often serves as a nearly transparent mask for the heartache implied by the album title. You can laugh and cry and sing along to the likes of “All Men Are Liars"--a nifty bouncer that rhymes Rick Astley with ghastly .

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to five stars (a classic).


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