It’s this reviewer’s opinion that Nils Lofgren is one of the most severely underrated guitarists and songwriters in the world of rock music. He’s crazy good, and often referred to simply as “that guy in a band.” Lofgren was a founding member of Grin, a solo artist, is a current member of the mighty E Street band and former alum of Crazy Horse, Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band as well as Patti Scialfa’s band. He’s a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He’s a musician’s musician, and his tone and playing style are instantly recognizable. Blue With Lou completes Lofgren’s the trio of Lofgren’s co-writing adventures with the late Lou Reed. The first being 1979’s The Bells and the second, Lofgren’s eponymous 1979 release. This current twelve track album has been released on April 26th on Lofgren’s own Cattle Track Records and was produced by Lofgren and his wife Amy.
The album features five songs (“Attitude City,” “Give,” Talk Thru the Tears,” “City Lights,” “Don’t Let Your Guard Down” and “Cut Him Up”) that date from the original writing sessions with Reed. Lofgren worked with and artistically configured these songs while on tour with Springsteen during their 2017 Australia tour. This time frame also saw Lofgren penning the additional songs, his first since 2011’s “Old School,” that round out Blue With Lou. The songs were all recorded live in the studio, and as such, they retain a rawness and pureness that really enhance and create the ambiance of the release.
Of the Reed collaborations, I really connected with “Talk Thru the Tears” the most. The piano and the almost delicate vocal intro really stood out as an important and intended touch that might have been missed by many other artists. Further, the usage of a men’s choir here to provide backing vocals really added a welcomed, soulful feel. Another favorite is “Attitude City,” which completely lives up to its title, as an in your face, gritty romp that opens the album with confidence. Of special note, the album and specifically, “Attitude City” and “Give” feature standout backing vocals from the wonderful Cindy Mizelle. Her vocals really showcase this pair of tracks, as well as providing a ray of light throughout the album. Additionally, “Give” really showcases Lofgren’s special guitar talents.
Of the new Lofgren penned tunes, “Pretty Soon” really resonated, as did the touching tribute to Tom Petty, with “Dear Heartbreaker,” and the beautiful homage to a dearly departed furry family member, “Groucho” Lofgren in “Remember You,” again, highlighted by the clever usage of a men’s choir. I’ve been a fan of Lofgren’s for many years now and Blue With Lou is an instant classic addition to his impressive repertoire. It’s heartfelt, poignant and filled with substance. Lofgren will be hitting the road in May in support of the album, and if a date comes near you, it should be a can’t miss. You can find more information on Nils Lofgren and Blue With Lou including tour dates here: http://www.nilslofgren.com/