Album: Loudon Wainwright III, 10 Songs for the New Depression (Proper)
Wainwright goes back to his roots. That's all folk!
Sunday 18 July 2010
At a time when anyone playing Coldplay-esque songs on acoustic guitars is labelled "nu folk", it's worth reminding ourselves of the purpose of the genre.
And who better to do this than the original "new Bob Dylan" – although these days Loudon Wainwright III sounds more like the old Bob Dylan than the new Bob Dylan does. Try to keep up.
The problem, of course, is that as soon as you start bandying about phrases such as "the purpose of folk", you run the risk of sounding like that bloke who called Dylan "Judas" for daring to push the envelope. Point is, the times have now a'changed to such a degree that it's nice to hear one of the originals of the 1960s folk scene get back to the idea of making an album that simply and effectively addresses the issues of the day.
10 Songs for the New Depression clocks in at around 30 minutes. In that short space of time (he has never needed more than a couple of minutes to make his point: see "Tonya's Twirls" for proof), Wainwright can make you laugh, nod in agreement, shake your fist in despair and want to sing along to a set of songs as focused as last year's Charlie Poole Project, although clearly written at pace.
"What in God's name is going on?/ All I can do is play this song" he sings on opener "Times is Hard", setting the tone for an album that offers no answers, only songs.
Accompanying himself on guitar, banjo or ukulele, that focus of subject matter finds Wainwright in better lyrical form than he has been in for some time. The songs are funny and sad because they are true. And if anyone is left in any doubt, the sleevenotes add a personal touch. The accompanying text to "House" – about a couple forced to stay together because they can't sell their home – for instance, sees Wainwright admitting he's "remained relatively unscathed by the New Depression though I do own a home in Southern California that I am unable to sell at present". The state of his current marriage he neglects to mention.
Obama, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and Alan Greenspan all get mentions and, even if nothing else about folk music grabs you, you have to admire LWIII's honesty and humour throughout.
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
Arts & Ents blogs
Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
Justin Bieber is NOT retiring from music
Nymphomaniac, film review: 'Despite the surreal sex scenes this is a serious drama'
Call the Midwife Christmas special: Behind the scenes with Miranda Hart
Justin Bieber's mishaps and controversies
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 4 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >