Although the almost-legendary Nick Lowe takes on a number of different musical stylesnearly all of them American and pre-Beatleson his first album in four years, the mood of Dig My Mood is mostly cheerless. Not that it matters much; if you have to listen to sad songs, they should always be as well-written and smartly executed as these. Though not without uplifting spots, particularly the lovely ballad "You Inspire Me," the album immediately sets a tone of disillusionment with its opening track, "Faithless Lover." Of course, it's appropriate that the happiest-sounding moment here should include the word "inspire," because, in addition to being a great heartbreak album, Dig My Mood is also a tribute to Lowe's influences, from smoky jazz-pop to R&B to country. Doing his best impression of his former father-in-law, Lowe's "Man That I've Become" sounds like a great Johnny Cash song, and "High On A Hilltop" is an equally effective tribute to '60s Stax soul, if more in spirit than in sound. That's not to say the material is derivative: From his first singles, such as the Bowie-esque "I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass," Lowe has made a habit of borrowing others' sounds and making them distinctively his. And though the low-key Dig My Mood lacks the energy of Lowe's classic early material, it is evidence that the flame that drives Lowe hasn't so much dimmed as intensified into a deeper blue.