Despite having repeatedly said he would never make another album, Mose Allison has been tempted out of retirement at the age of 82 to bring us The Way Of The World, a collection of typically trenchant observations delivered in his trademark laconic drawl.
He's picked the right producer too, Joe Henry's previous work with such as Solomon Burke, Bettye Lavette and Allen Toussaint demonstrating his gift for refurbishing legends in slightly more contemporary style. Here, his masterstroke is teaming Allison's voice with the equally laconic tone of what sounds like Weissenborn acoustic slide guitar, which inhabits the spaces around the singer's piano parts. His songs treat difficult topics with wry humour: structured like the blues standard "My Babe", the opening "My Brain" is a droll reflection on ageing ("My brain is losing power/twelve hundred neurons every hour"), while elsewhere "I Know You Didn't Mean It" and "Everybody Thinks You're An Angel" deal lightly with selfishness and deceit, against which he posits the plea for tolerance "Ask Me Nice". "Modest Proposal" grapples with the thorny subject of religious war, Allison proposing we give God a vacation: "He gave us the power to reason, just trying to show us the way/So let's let Him go for a season, and start making sense today". What a sensible chap.
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