Friday, November 1, 2013

Album Review: Nick Lowe - Quality Street

Quality Street is a seasonal album by Nick Lowe. This is probably the most surprising holiday albums in the last 10 years. What is even more surprising is how fantastic it is.


Because this album is pure Nick Lowe and not some cutesy Christmas album. White Christmas doesn't even make an appearance here!

Quality Street is Nick Lowe doing Christmas as Nick Lowe. His songs all sound like Nick should sound and not full of sleigh bells and other cliches that usually fill up holiday albums.

The first track is the folksy "Children Go Where I Send Thee." It is perfectly Nick, even though it is hard to imagine Nick doing a song that is so religious in nature.

The next two songs "Christmas Can't Be Far Away" and "Christmas At The Airport" have the current Nick Lowe sound, that's a little bit like Bacharach & David. These are great songs for a night by the fire.

"The North Pole Express" is what happens when jazz and country get together. This is one of the songs that everyone, young and old can enjoy.

"Hooves On The Roof" is jazzy holiday brilliance. If Diana Krall hears this one, it may make it on her next holiday offering. Even the songwriter of this one, Ron Sexsmith probably pleased with the treatment Lowe gives to this song.

The songs that shine the most are the folk tunes. "I Was Born In Bethlehem" is another such song. Unlike "Children Go Where I Send Thee" and "Rise Up Shepherd" it is a much more subdued melody. Nick's more mature vocal really brings a certain intimacy to the song

If you enjoyed "Children Go Where I Send Thee" you will be over the moon at Lowe's version of "Rise Up Shepherd." This song conjures up a wonderful visual of Nick on porch playing this song with a backdrop of winter snow.

"Silent Night" is the only true holiday staple on the album, and you haven't heard "Silent Night" sung this way. Rockabilly "Silent Night" is bloody brilliant. This is a song that is always so serious sounding. There's absolutely nothing serious or silent about Nick's version. The percussion and organ are so lively that you may find your foot taping to this song.

If any song on this album could really convey Nick's recent style it would be "A Dollar Short Of Happy." This song could easily slip on an album like The Convincer. Nick has never been known for his "happy" tunes. He's always the heartbroken bloke, and this song is just pure Nick!

Nick saves the best for last. The album closes with Roy Wood's "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day." Though Nick's cover isn't as bouncy as the original, he gives it the Nick Lowe retro treatment. The arrangement goes back to his 70s sound. It is still the fun frolicking song most are familiar with
but Nick's version is more about the vocal and less about the glitz.

Quality Street is definitely one of the must have holiday albums of the year. 

Watch: A Dollar Short Of Happy

Rating: 5 our of 5 stars

1 comment:

moodymistress said...

Great review! The album sounds wonderful. Looking forward to hearing it.