Years of Refusal (Lost Highway/Attack)

Morrissey's ninth solo album sounds right at home on his new label, Nashville's Lost Highway. The singer who once famously clutched Oscar Wilde to his chest might seem misplaced among the roster of distinctly American artists like Willie Nelson and Lucinda Williams. But the blunt honesty in his lyrics, like the line “There's no need to be kind to you,” from “It's Not Your Birthday Anymore,” shows how much he has in common with storytellers who rely on life experience rather than existential ideas. The song is the CD's best, with heavy chords, beautiful fluttering woodwinds, and strident vocals.

Morrissey has always borrowed from rockabilly's rowdy sexiness, and on “All You Need Is Me” he slows the frantic pace but keeps the drumming steady, swaggering in and out of the beat. By the time he sings, “You're gonna miss me when I'm gone,” you realize just how right he is. Let's hope we don't have to wait another three years for him to reappear.

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