Monday, August 11, 2008

What we're listening to: "Harps and Angels" by Randy Newman.

Recent years have seen Randy Newman focused upon recording film scores and songs for animated movies. His recent release of "Harps and Angels", his first new album of songs since 1999, posed the to this listener the question, "Does Randy Newman still have it in him to write worthy additions to his songbook of dark twisted characters and their ironic/satirical commentary on life, love and the USA"?

From the most appropriate opening line, "Hasn't anybody seen me lately, I'll tell you why" which begins the title song, a nice little take on a near death experience, complete with Heavenly intervention [a clerical error], Randy shows that he is still the smartest songwriter alive. Musically, Newman does what he does best, create tunes while catchy, use a full and rich pallet of his composer's arsenal, horns, strings, mixed in with his New Oreleans flavored piano as only he can. Less rock 'n' roll this time out, and more in the flavor of his "Sail On" days. Lyrically, Randy takes aim at many topics: the state of America [A few words in defense of our country] [how many songs feature a reference to King Leopold of Belguim and the Congo?], the middle class [A piece of the pie] [I wonder what Jackson Browne feels about this one?], education and parenting with [Korean Parents] [a likely candidate for as much misunderstanding as his classic "Short People" was in its heyday, and also mixes in a few trenchant views on relationships in songs like "Losing you", "Potholes" and lastly, a new recording of "Feels like home" that was originally featured on his Faust soundtrack and maybe his most beautiful "normal" lovesong which appropriately concludes the CD with its last line of "Feels like I'm all the way back where I belong."

Yes indeed, Randy Newman is back where he belongs, in your CD or MP3 player, just be careful of singing along to his songs or you may sing things you might not want to admit to in public!

Visit Randy Newman's website.

No comments: