Old Things New

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After three albums of uneven material elevated by one of country’s very finest voices, Joe Nichols truly hit his stride with 2007’s Real Things. His latest deftly demonstrates that the consistency of its predecessor was no accident—Old Things New is the sound of an artist brimming with confidence and eager to prove his mettle.
One suspects that the authority in Joe’s voice stems from his newfound sobriety. He addresses his battle with the bottle in stark terms on the album’s powerful closing track, “An Old Friend of Mine,” just a few songs after “Cheaper Than a Shrink” makes clear that he has no intention of passing up a fun, funny drinking song when he finds one. But Old Things New keeps its focus mostly on matters of the heart, and Joe proves equally adept at inhabiting characters both happy and heartbroken. The musical mood remains generally laid-back, just as it did on Real Things, suggesting that Joe has found a comfort zone in which he can continue to flourish.

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