Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Anais Mitchell & Nick Lowe preview

| April 18, 2012

The singer/songwriter profession requires an arrogance that says you’re the best person to sing your songs. Society has followed suit, forging a divide among all fans where an artist’s worth often hinges on whether one writes their own material. Anais Mitchell, with a voice both twee and polarizing, clearly feels her attachment to Young Man In America‘s tales of family woe (daddy issues pop up more than once) give her license to sing them. The whimsical arrangements do plenty to validate her choice, rising and swooning and theatrically tip-toeing, though one does wonder how a more traditionally powerful set of pipes would alter the material. (Friday@Space with Cuddle Magic.)

Once known as “Basher,” Nick Lowe has majorly mellowed. Labeled a late ‘70s punk rock/new wave pioneer (like early collaborator Elvis Costello), this moniker was a misnomer; Costello portrayed the “angry young man,” but Lowe, with his premature gray hair and hard-pounding pop sensibility (“Cruel To Be Kind,” “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, And Understanding”), was mildly peeved at best. Since the mid-‘90s, Lowe has shifted from sharp-tongued “Nick The Knife” to languid lounge lizard. A new collection of calm, quiet covers (including Costello’s passionately pleading “Poisoned Rose”) and originals, The Old Magic (Yep Roc) continues this tranquil course. New songs “Stoplight Roses,” “Sensitive Man,” “I Read A Lot,” and others brim with Lowe’s trademark wry wit and irony, heartbreak, and sarcasm, while dangling on a light, jazz-like limb more reminiscent of the Nat King Cole Trio than Rockpile. The “Basher” of yore is missed, but this laid-back offering keeps his “Jesus of cool” persona intact. (Friday@Park West.)

— James Turano

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Category: Stage Buzz, Weekly

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