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Although he’s changed styles about as often as Dennis Rodman’s changed hair color, through every one of them Nick Lowe has remained the consummate pop craftsman, a sly humorist with a knack for the hook. His latest transformation, documented on the recent Dig My Mood (Upstart), finds him veering away from rock and dipping into adult balladry–which isn’t as scary as it sounds. Lowe’s “Faithless Lover” flirts with the brooding moodiness of French crooner Jacques Brel, and “You Inspire Me” is a thinly disguised remake of Nat “King” Cole’s “Unforgettable,” but most of the songs just bring Lowe’s catchy white soul and roots rock down to a more civilized volume. (In a recent interview published in the Austin American-Statesman he admitted, “I like rock ‘n’ roll, but yes, the screaming my head off to a Nazi 4/4 beat–I think those days are over for me.”) “High on a Hilltop” sounds like a lost Stax gem, and the cool lope of the old bastard’s anthem “Man That I’ve Become” seems custom-made for Johnny Cash, who covered Lowe’s even more self-deprecating “The Beast in Me.” Dig My Mood isn’t Lowe’s finest effort, but live he’s bound to dig deeper into his repertoire. The opening act is Spooner Oldham & Dan Penn, a pair of songwriters responsible for some of the greatest Memphis soul tunes ever, including “Dark End of the Street” and “It Tears Me Up.” Tuesday, 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Eleanor Bentall.