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A Bracing Primer for Budding Scoundrels

Nick Lowe is among the last of a dying breed, or at least a dying subgenre: distinguished performers of long-ago novelty hits turned pop elder statesmen. Lowe, who recorded the 1980 classic "Cruel to Be Kind" — though he's also known as the author of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" — is also a onetime member of the rockabilly trio Rockpile, as well as an artist whose critical acclaim has come in inverse proportion to his album sales.

Lowe's new At My Age, his first album in six years, combines amiable, little-known country covers with rangey, vaguely R&B-ified originals. The weirdest and wittiest of these is "I Trained Her to Love Me," a brief, bracing primer for budding scoundrels ("If you think that it's depraved / and I should be ashamed / So what / I'm only paying back womankind / for all the grief I got").

Because Lowe has always been the gentlest of satirists, "I Trained Her to Love Me" isn't as nasty as it sounds, though it comes pretty close. It's mordant and bizarre, jaunty and grim — like a murder ballad in which nobody dies — and probably the only song to ever recall Lee Hazlewood and Dean Martin at the same time.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Allison L. Stewart
Allison Stewart is a writer living in New York. It's entirely possible to see her work in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, No Depression, Rolling Stone or any number of other places. Or to miss it entirely, which is just as likely.