The Randy Newman Songbook, Vol. 1
Randy Newman always felt at odds with rock 'n' roll. He related best to its roots, particularly New Orleans music. Having amassed enough cultural clout with his movie soundtracks, here he set about performing songs from his singer/songwriter career in their natural setting: just him and his piano. This lets listeners focus on Newman's voice and lyrics, the phrasings that tilt the meaning of a song ever so slightly. He doesn't play favorites in terms of era. Songs from his 1999 album Bad Love are presented alongside classics from the '60s and '70s. "Rednecks" still burns with purpose. "It's Money That I Love" has lost none of its sting. "Political Science" is even closer to the truth than when it was first written. Newman deals with existential woes ("God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)") and socio-politics ("The World Isn't Fair") without losing a step. Producer Mitchell Froom ensures that the piano's deep and powerful and that Newman's voice is always in the frame. You couldn't ask for better.