BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Loudon Wainwright: Strange Weirdos (Universal)

 |   |  1 min read

Loudon Wainwright III: Grey in LA
BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008:  Loudon Wainwright: Strange Weirdos (Universal)

Longtime cynic, straight-shooter and occasionally misanthropic singer-songwriter Wainwright shows no sign of losing his touch even though he is now in his 60s.

His subjects will always provide plenty of material: they are life in general, himself, his family, and sometimes astute socio-political observation.

He is a sensitive singer-songwriter -- if that also means being sensitive to every dyspeptic, angry, unworthy emotion. He documents them all with rare courage.

This album however comes from another place: he was commission to write songs for the Judd Apatow comedy Knocked Up and so -- with Joe Henry (see Best of Elsewhere 2007), input from friends like Richard Thompson, and a pretty open chequebook -- he wrote and recorded dozens of songs, only a few of which (some in instrumental form) made the final cut.

But these songs were too good to let go and so this album, subtitled "Music from and inspired by the film Knocked Up".

So here are gorgeously melodic and observational images of LA (Valley Morning, Grey in LA) a typically downbeat Lullaby (which opens "Shut up and go to bed . . ."), a swipe at reluctantly aging baby boomers such as himself (Doin' the Math), a cheerfully upbeat take on Peter Blegvad's Daughter, Henry's haunting consideration of the fragility of life and love in You Can't Fail Me Now, and much more.

From spare arrangements through to upbeat rockers pierced by Thompson's mercurial guitar and some barrelhouse piano, these 14 songs are as musically diverse as they are in their subjects, although the overall theme is families, parenthood, children and so on.

In his long career this Wainwright -- father of Rufus and Martha among others -- has rarely put a foot wrong, and he shows no sign of doing that now. Another disarming and charming outing, with the usual darkness in the margins.

 

There is an interview with Loudon Wainwright about this album under Absolute Elsewhere here 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: The Mountain Goats, Heretic Pride (4AD)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: The Mountain Goats, Heretic Pride (4AD)

Co-produced by John Vanderslice, the typically opaque lyrics by John Darnielle are given space and clarity so as to bewilder and bemuse you by turns. Not many people write songs with titles like... > Read more

Grand Archives: Keep In Mind Frankenstein (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

Grand Archives: Keep In Mind Frankenstein (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

It would be fair to note that after saying very favourable things about this band's impressive debut The Grand Archives, I fully expected to never hear another note by them. Not that they would... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

ENRICO RAVA AND NEW YORK DAYS: The trumpet calls the faithful

ENRICO RAVA AND NEW YORK DAYS: The trumpet calls the faithful

It’s disappointing and embarrassing that one encounter may put you off a musician for such a long time. Then, shame-faced, you crawl your way back later and have to concede everybody else was... > Read more

Kurt Cobain: Gun, head and Smithereens.

Kurt Cobain: Gun, head and Smithereens.

As with most people of a "certain age" I can remember where I was when I heard John F Kennedy had been shot ( I was in bed), and when I was told another Kennedy had gone the way of the... > Read more