Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
When Nick Lowe was addressing the audience about what they were about to hear at a show during his recent tour, he cautioned there would be a few new songs sprinkled into the set list. But, in typical self-deprecating Lowe fashion, he reassured the audience that a) they would be short and b) they sound just like the old songs anyway, so not to worry.
He was right on both counts.
The second Lowe/Los Straitjackets studio collaboration EP features only four selections, running a total of 14 minutes. Three are new Lowe originals that, well, sound like others of his tunes, and the fourth, “Raincoat In The River,” is an obscure Phil Spector cover, initially recorded by the little known Sammy Turner. Ricky Nelson also did a version, but with its hummable and strummable pop melody, it seems like something Lowe would write.
The title track, “Love Starvation,” is jaunty pure-pop-for-now-people. The lyrics, telling of a man who needs love, are more melancholy than most of Lowe’s, sung over Los Straitjackets’ Rockpile-styled rockabilly groove. Ditto for “Trombone” about “good love gone wrong,” with the protagonist singing, “I should be on the road to glory/Not this barren, bleak terrain/I pray I’ll never be this way again,” over, you guessed it, overdubbed trombones. It hews a little close to Neil Diamond but Lowe’s amiable vocals save it from getting schlocky.
As its title implies, “Blue on Blue” is another lost love tune—that’s a theme here—as Lowe downshifts into sweet ballad mode with wry lyrics “In my mind/I’m on the end of a ball of twine/That she jerks from time to time.” The quartet of tracks is short—too short—and sweet. There may not be another “(What’s So Funny ‘bout) Peace, Love, And Understanding” here, but how often does an artist get another one of those? It’s hard to say if we’ll ever see a new full-length Nick Lowe album again, but if he can squeeze out four songs a year as sturdy as these, that might satisfy fans who would surely like to hear more from a veteran singer-songwriter whose music, like his voice, never seems to age.