Loudon Wainwright spent most of the '70s recording for major labels, utilizing increasingly elaborate production. But when he shifted to Rounder Records and stripped down his sound, whether for budgetary or aesthetic reasons, he ended up giving himself an artistic shot in the arm. On his second studio set for Rounder, I'm Alright, he teamed up with Richard Thompson, who had guested on Wainwright's previous album. Thompson produced "I'm Alright" in England, and in addition to his own guitar prowess, he enlisted some first-call U.K. folk rockers, including alumni of Fairport Convention. The Brits flesh out the tunes as necessary, but Thompson sagely leaves Loudon plenty of elbow room. The result is some of Wainwright's most effective work, whether he's employing his famously skewed sense of humor on "Cardboard Boxes," a song about the travails of moving house, tackling emotionally charged subjects like John Lennon's assassination ("Not John") or writing a kind of anti-blues about surviving romantic desolation (the album's title track).