True to form, Allison still finds his ‘Way’

By Steve Greenlee
Globe Staff / March 21, 2010

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Mose Allison has been taking his listeners on jazz hayrides since the ’50s, and his style (thankfully) hasn’t changed: blues-inflected bop with hipster lyrics delivered in a deadpan, half-talking style. Even after all these years, Mose Allison says what he has to say and gets out. Each of the dozen songs that make up the singer and pianist’s new album, “The Way of World,’’ runs between 2 and 3 1/2 minutes. (Who does he think he is, the White Stripes?)

Aided by producer extraordinaire Joe Henry, “The Way of the World’’ is billed as Allison’s comeback album (a la Johnny Cash), largely because of his age — he’s 82 — and because it has been eight years since his last album, which also happened to be billed as a comeback.

This is also his first studio album in 13 years. But, man, he hasn’t lost it, and he wants us to know it. “My Brain’’ (“My brain is always ticking / as long as I’m alive and kicking’’) is as dry and cool as “Your Mind Is on Vacation’’ from way back when. His piano playing is just as bluesy and funky; on “Some Right, Some Wrong,’’ it barrels along like a freight train. His wry wit and intentionally twisted logic spare no target: He goes after organized religion (“Modest Proposal’’), conventional thinking (“Everybody Thinks You’re An Angel’’), human behavior (“I Know You Didn’t Mean It’’), other people (“I’m Alright’’), and even himself (“Ask Me Nice’’). Mose, if we ask you nice, can we have another album before 2020? STEVE GREENLEE