Grumpy-Old-Pissed-Off-Man might have been a more apt title for Nils Lofgren’s newest solo album, Old School. He bluntly comes out and says as much via the title tracks first verse:
“Teens are hooked on drugs and the internet/cry life is rough we must forget/ Dad I’m going to the Mall dressed like a whore/Mama everyone is doing it and there’s more/I need a 24/7 sexting cell/or I’ll kill myself and see you in hell/Dad it’s all your fault that my life sucks/oh and by the way I need a hundred bucks/Oh No ain’t no old school anymore!”
Ignoring the fact Nils forgot completely what it means to be young and rebellious, who exactly is this song for? White suburban rich dads who just watched the latest Tim Allen debacle and are feeling their Viagra fueled oats? This opener is laughably bad and gets worse because after this verse it descends into a plea for the death penalty, no joke.
The sideman who has played with Neil Young and much more famously Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band, Nils has had mixed success with his solo ventures and nothing changes here.
When he goes into ballad land (“Love Stumbles On” “Irish Angel” and “Let Her Get Away”) the singer gains levity and his off kilter voice sounds sincere and passionate. Yet when he is trying to rebel against those young whippersnappers (“Old School” “Ain’t To Many Of Us Left” and “60 Is the New 18”) he sounds like the psychotic neighbor who lost touch with reality about a decade ago.
The albums blues workouts fall somewhere in-between those two levels, acting as a nice touch but nothing particularly engaging. What should be noted is the A+ production on this record, instruments sound lush and full, guitars ring in every channel. Pristine sound helps smooth over the abrasive lyrics of his old man “rockers” and help accentuate the delicate picking of his slower efforts, but a good studio sound can’t save things completely.
Sure Nils may be decidedly Old School, but if you are looking for a new school way of hearing him in 2012, wait for the next E-Street tour as his sideman guitar work is still his best asset.