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- User Reviews

  • If you like vintage Loudon, buy this album!

    5
    By loudnfan
    This is classic Loudon Wainwright III, using acerbic humor to address hard times, sadness, along his favorite subjects, death and decay. The production fits the theme: stripped down to voice and guitar, recalling the starkness of Depression era recordings. For Wainwright fans, this should have significant appeal. Wainwright doesn't tour with a band, he accompanies himself in concert, and the sound of his voice and guitar serve his songs so well that many fans find the arrangements on studio albums intrusive to the songs. In this respect, this is the album fans have wished for for some time. And the songs are witty, insightful, and energetic. Wainwright at his best walks a tightrope between pathos and humor, making us laugh in one moment and find a tear on a cheek in the next. He successfully walks that tightrope here with great confidence. The couple in "House" can't stand each other, want to divorce, but can't afford to because of their house - and yet in Wainwright's hands they find another dimension as well; a commitment to their family and to each other that is so utterly human and beautiful that it transcends the topic and makes the song universal. The sheer joy and energy of Wainwright's performance on the opening track, "Times is Hard," embraces hopelessness with a reckless joy that few songwriters can muster, but Wainwright does so with ease. Many of the songs such as, "The Krugman Blues", "Cash for Clunkers" evoke his topical songs for NPR, and he handles the subjects well. Sometimes his topical songs sound a bit strained, but perhaps using the framework of a Depression, evoking a historical period, helped create some distance that lends these songs an unforced quality. Wainwright even finds hope in songs like "Middle of the Night", a beautiful ballad. This is Wainwright at his best, and his strongest studio album of original material since "Last Man on Earth". You can spend some time listening to the excerpts before purchasing to see if you agree with this assessment, but it's an unnecessary step that will only cost you time.

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