It’s no great secret that Nick Lowe was Johnny Cash’s son-in-law for some time. I can’t say for sure what happened at family reunions, but listening to The Convincer definitely makes me think of Lowe and Cash sitting on the porch, sometime after the food and drink has been consumed and most have gone inside, simply strumming and humming like a couple of guitar-toting enthusiasts. Lowe’s distinct sense of pop timing and impeccable taste in melody are, as always, more than a mere quirk of talent (they possess a presence of their own), but on here his penchant for simplicity takes on a new level of refinement, with songs like “Lately I’ve Let Things Slide,” a slower number that brings a note of wry resignation to the aftermath of heartache — something Lowe has done before (notably on “Television,” one of my favorites). A cover of “Poor Side of Town” (made famous by Johnny Rivers) clearly shows Lowe’s deep understanding of American soul.
The Convincer is very downtempo; there’s nary a rocker to be found, and even the faster moments, such as the cleverly arranged “Has She Got a Friend?”, never seem to move faster than a stroll, a marked contrast from the Lowe of yore. The songs here may be slower, but Lowe’s way with words hasn’t diminished; the maturity that results in dissipation for lesser talents truly fits Lowe well, who is resplendent in a thick white shock of hair on the cover of this album. Like well-aged cognac, Lowe has become a complex concoction that still packs a mighty kick.
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