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Randy Newman

In addition to being one of our greatest American singer- songwriters and film composers, Newman long ago established himself among our sharpest and most caustic wits. Calling his inspired new album The Randy Newman Songbook, Vol. I seems like a curiously upbeat and straightforward act for this frequently wry fellow. "Yeah, it's not my style to look ahead with confidence," Newman confesses. "I'm basically asking for it with a title like that. Come to think of it, I could have called it something safer and more horrible like Looking Back At My Life, but I just didn't give it that much thought." If it's not Newman's style to look forward with optimism, it's also not his personal preference to look back, whether in anger or in any other emotion. Yet somehow he still does so brilliantly on The Randy Newman Songbook, Vol. I, his illuminating first effort for the Nonesuch label. The eighteen-song set finds Newman singing and playing piano on powerful new solo versions of his early classics ("I Think It's Going To Rain Today," "Sail Away," "You Can Leave Your Hat On"), his more recent gems ("The World Isn't Fair," "The Great Nations of Europe") as well as a few examples of the Oscar-winning composer's film music (themes from Avalon and Ragtime, as well as "When She Loved Me" from Toy Story 2) and even a favorite stray obscurity ("Let Me Go," a song originally written for the 1972 Norman Lear movie The Pursuit of Happiness). The resulting album is an intimate and powerful reminder of the enduring work that has established Newman as a songwriter's songwriter -- one of the most musically and lyrically ambitious singer- songwriters ever to be at play in the fields of popular music. Characteristically, Newman offers no hype. "This was something I did at the behest of the record company really," Newman explains matter of factly. "It wasn't something I would have thought to do necessarily -- memorialize my own songs. It's kind of interesting to me to do this project because it does play to history in a way, but in truth that's not as interesting to me personally as new stuff. I like writing new songs, though frankly I don't do that too much either. See I know these songs already but to do them in this way is not a bad thing. It's nice, actually." "Nice" really understates matters considerably.

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Live Review

Randy Newman at the Space in Westbury

Read "Randy Newman at the Space in Westbury" reviewed by Mike Perciaccante

Randy Newman The Space in Westbury Westbury, NY April 6, 2016 Satire is defined as the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. For the modern world, perhaps satire might best be defined simply and eloquently as--a Randy Newman song. The Oscar, Emmy and Grammy winning songwriter and composer, best-known for his 1977 hit ...

Live Review

Randy Newman: Ottawa, Canada, March 28, 2011

Read "Randy Newman: Ottawa, Canada, March 28, 2011" reviewed by John Kelman

Randy NewmanCentrepointe Theatre, Ottawa, Canada March 28, 2011 While it's not been the 25 years that he cited as the time that's passed since his last Ottawa performance--he was actually in town for the 2007 Ottawa Bluesfest--it was his first time playing in a theater setting in Ottawa since the mid-1980s, when he delivered a solo show in the Opera of the National Arts Centre in support of Trouble in Paradise (Reprise, 1983). Still, with ...

Album Review

Randy Newman: Harps and Angels

Read "Harps and Angels" reviewed by John Kelman

It's been nine years since Bad Love (Dreamworks SKG, 1999), Randy Newman's last album of original material. In the interim the singer/songwriter moved to Nonesuch for Songbook Vol. 1 (2003), where he revisited some of his favorite songs. As good as it was, it's nice to know that, with Harps and Angels, his pen is as sharp as ever. High expectations were set when he released “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country" in 2007. The iTunes-only ode to ...

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