Album: Randy Newman, Live in London (Nonesuch)


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The Independent Culture

Randy Newman is accompanied here by the BBC Concert Orchestra, whose piquant strings add shivers of regret to heartbreaking lost-love songs like "Marie" and "I Miss You".

But it's the songwriter's droll between-songs patter that makes his performance special. Sometimes, the patter invades the songs as asides, as when he acknowledges how tough it is to sing the line "No-one likes us [America], I don't know why" these days.

The song in question, "Political Science", embodies the mordant cynicism also found in "God's Song", and tempered elsewhere by the touching sentimentality of "Losing You" and "Feels Like Home"; but only Leonard Cohen can rival Newman's ability to blend the two strains in one song without them curdling, as in the extraordinary "Sail Away".

DOWNLOAD THIS Losing You; Short People; Louisiana 1927; Sail Away