Dig My Mood, Upstart Records CD 038, 1998, (37:11)
To the naked eye, Nick Lowe doesnt have a whole lot in common musically
with iconoclasts like Neil Young and David Bowie. But it appears as though he
has just found a new way to bond with these two veterans at the next rock &
roll hall of fame dinner, since Lowe is openly in the process of reinventing
Of course, hes not morphing between country and grunge like the
schizophrenic Young has a propensity to do, nor is he having a Bowie-esque
visual image makeover. Nonetheless, the modern Nick Lowe is truly a changed
Meet the newly serious, and seriously manic-depressive, Nick Lowe. Gone is the
Lowe who used to toss off lines like "she was a winner, who became the
doggies dinner." Gone also is the lyricist who could turn a song
like "Switch Board Susan" into a fruitful labor of lust, or call an
album "The Abominable Showman." That twisted troubadour of the
bizarre has flown the coop (for now). So it goes.
Beginning with 1994s "The Impossible Bird," which explored
"The Beast In Me" and asked "Wheres My Everything?,"
Lowe came out fighting with his inner demons, and thus began his mournful
meditation upon the woeful state of his broken heart.
This brings us to Lowes latest, "Dig My Mood," which is a thing
only the truly brokenhearted could ever really dig. These days, Lowe is the
traveling minstrel of gloom. Instead of playing the role of the Joker, he now
presents himself as a card carrying member of the lonely hearts club
band, trying his best to make sense of the damage dealt by a losing hand in
The albums centerpiece is simply called "What Lack of Love Has
Done," and succinctly summarizes Lowes reluctant new calling.
"When I get up in the spotlight/and my story has begun/I try to
explain/what lack of love has done."
Lowes twangy guitar sounds have been replaced by sad accordions and
weeping organs. Once he stood tall as the crowned Prince of Pub rock, but now
all thats left is a despondent Lowe, slouched upon his regular barstool
at the pub, and burying his blues in song.
Digging Lowes new mood takes a little extra digging on the
listeners part; but although the earth is hard, the treasures fine.
This artistic about-face is akin to watching the life of the party trade in his
lampshade hat for a book of Joy Division lyrics. While these changes may be
unexpected ones, this new low for Lowe is nevertheless still a highly
recommended listening experience. Dan MacIntosh
Glenn Brooks says... I dig this much more than Dan does,
but that may because I am, um, of a certain ageor perhaps just, as Dan says,
"truly brokenhearted." (Since I think I am quite happily married, it
must be a genetic defect.) Nick has lost none of his lyric cleverness, but the
gently melancholic (though not depressing!) songs cut more deeply than before.
The best part is that Nick has found a groove between country and soul that
maybe only an Englishman could discover. The songs remind me of Charlie Rich
and Pops Staples in almost equal measure. I think this ones a classic.