Nick Lowe

Party of One

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Nick Lowe settled a long-standing feud with Dave Edmunds with Party of One, hiring his former Rockpile mate to produce the album. Edmunds gives Lowe a sharper sound than before, keeping a tight reign on the performances and the songs -- for the first time, there are no covers on a Nick Lowe album. Theoretically, that wouldn't be a problem, but Lowe was in a songwriting slump at the time of Party of One. "All Men Are Liars," with its weird jab at dance-pop idol Rick Astley, is symptomatic of the record's flaws -- ingratiating melodies are undercut by forced humor and bland support. Even the best moments -- "(I Want to Build A) Jumbo Ark," "What's Shakin' on the Hill," "I Don't Know Why You Keep Me On" -- are undercut by stiff, colorless performances. For an artist who is defined by his relaxed charm, the stilted Party of One comes as an unwelcome surprise.

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