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For some 40 years, Nick Lowe has been offering pop lovers an alternative version of cool. It's the sort of cool conjured by images of Bogie walking alone in the rain way past midnight, cigarette smoldering and the hint of a sardonic grin pushing at the corners of his mouth.
Lowe has always managed to be at once a self-effacing writer and a man capable of imparting the deepest and most bittersweet emotions through his pop mini-symphonies. Rooted in the past - there is always a bit of Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison and even Nat King Cole in his writing - Lowe has simultaneously always seemed pertinent to the present. In fact, he found himself near the forefront of movements like English pub rock and New Wave. Whether with Rockpile, Brinsley Schwarz or on his own, Lowe has consistently delivered on the songwriting front.
This is certainly the case with Lowe's latest, "The Old Magic," a sterling collection that continues the hot streak he has been on since releasing "The Convincer" back in 2001.
Fresh from a full band tour with Wilco - avowed fans of his work - Lowe has launched a solo acoustic tour that includes a date at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Asbury Hall at Babeville (341 Delaware Ave.). Eleni Mandell will open. Tickets are $20 advance (box office, Ticketmaster.com), $24 day of show.
- Jeff Miers