Various Artists : Lowe Country: The Songs of Nick Lowe

Nick Lowe is a songwriter’s songwriter. In fact, his most recognized song, “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding,” was made famous by Elvis Costello. But Nick Lowe has always been a consistent archetype of “cool” amongst the indie-folk crowd, especially those with a little twang in their voice.  So a tribute album from some of the hippest names in Americana and Nashville’s underground alt-country scene should come as no surprise.

Although most of the tracks on Lowe Country: The Songs of Nick Lowe don’t really deviate much from the originals, the best are those that bring their own voice to Lowe’s lyrics without sacrificing the songs’ integrity. Hayes Carll’s version of “I’m Gonna Start Livin’ Again if it Kills Me” and Caitlin Rose’s “Lately I’ve Let Things Slide” stand out as stellar interpretations. Chatham County Line serves up a newgrass-y take on “Heart of the City,” while Jeff the Brotherhood offers an atmospheric pop version of “Marie Provost.” A crooning “Don’t Lose Your Grip on Love” by The Parson Red Heads is another gem.

Still, the problem with tribute albums is that they too often consist merely of standout tracks. Lowe Country: The Songs of Nick Lowe has plenty of great tracks, even for those unfamiliar with the originals, but like most tribute albums, there is little continuity. Regardless, Nick Lowe fans should appreciate the judicious treatment of his material, and Americana fans will certainly enjoy some of their favorite performers paying homage to a truly great songwriter.

Lowe Country:The Songs of Nick Lowe is out now on Fiesta Red Records.