There's a lovely, very short bit on Nick Lowe in this week's New Yorker, which follows him as he shops for glasses. He makes mention of a clarifying moment he had as a rock 'n' roll star, I'm guessing in the late-70s, when he decided he wasn't going to be one of those aging performers aping the kids in an attempt to stay current. Instead he charted out an attitude and sound he figured he could properly wear into old age.
Having spun Labour Of Lust* through the summer months, and contrasted that with At My Age* and now The Old Magic, I would never have imagined in 1979 that the sound he was referring to would be akin to that of Max Bygraves or Guy Mitchell. But, especially in Mitchell's case, I think Lowe rather astutely latched onto a sensibility that works brilliantly. It's like he took Mitchell's approach to “Heartaches By The Number” — a weird performance in which Mitchell sounds like he couldn't be happier — and turned it inside out. Lowe also performs his narrators' voices as if they couldn't be happier, then makes it subtly clear what a shame this is.
Looks like Lowe has become the Elder Statesman of Cool.