It's hard to think of another artist who has settled into middle age as comfortably and admirably as Nick Lowe. The former king of pub rock and byword for smart, sly new-wave and pop music in the '70s and '80s now holds an endowed chair in the singer-songwriters' ivory tower, an éminence grise that befits his stately and avuncular white mane. Last year's The Old Magic finds his voice slinking into a warm lower register, adorned by jazz- and country-flecked arrangements. His pen is sharp as ever — "Checkout Time" ruminates on a passing time and the road ahead, while "Stoplight Roses" has the lyrical wit and shame-on-you tone of the best country moralizers.
Last Time: As if in thanks for allowing the spot-on cover of "I Love My Label," Wilco asked Lowe to open a leg of its last U.S. tour, which found Lowe performing acoustic renditions of his songs last October at the Peabody Opera House.