Mose Allison, "The Way of the World"

90 Billboard Rating

Although the sound of Mose Allison's first studio album in more than a decade, "The Way of the World," has been slightly updated for the occasion (thanks to production by chamber-roots specialist Joe Henry), the 82-year-old singer/pianist's mordant wit retains its vintage charm. In fact, Allison probably could have sung any of these new tunes about aging just as credibly 50 years ago. That even goes for the excellent opener, "My Brain," on which he charts the slow degradation of his noodle over a boogie-woogie groove that starts out perky but keeps slackening bit by bit. Fans of Randy Newman's 2008 album, "Harps and Angels," will appreciate the cheerfully profane "Modest Proposal" ("Let's give God a vacation/ He must be tired of it all") and a laid-back, sax-enriched take on "Everybody Thinks You're an Angel," a wry jazz-country tune by Allison's daughter, Amy. "I'm not the first, I'm not the most, of this town I am not the toast," he sings with an audible shrug in "Ask Me Nice." Happily, "The Way of the World" provides some evidence to the contrary.--Mikael Wood