Rock veterans don’t get more vital than Nils Lofgren. Crooked Line crackles with the kind of serrated guitar lines and boyishly urgent vocals that we associate with his work nearly two decades gone. Not since such mid-’70s solo albums as Cry Tough has Lofgren recorded guitar solos this raw or better showcased the nuanced hesitancy of his voice. Lofgren always sounds like he’s painfully aware of the inadequacy of words, lending each line a frustrated poignancy. He’s capable of irony, too. In ”A Child Could Tell,” his angry singing belies the grateful lyrics, transforming a tribute to love-at-last into an expression of bitterness for how long romance was in coming. What drives these ironies home is Eric Ambel’s brutally sharp production. This is the toughest-sounding power-pop record since Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend, not to mention the truest.