Album Review: Dark Matter, Randy Newman

Vintage effort from cult songwriter.

A mini-opera of several movements, documenting the debate between science and religion, examining dark matter, and disproving the theory of evolution using a giraffe, before it goes all At Swim-Two-Birds as a character turns on the songwriter – that’s how you open an album. You then follow it up with the Kennedy brothers planning the Bay of Pigs invasion until Jack ruins it all, revealing his love for none other than Celia Cruz. Just as the late Warren Zevon could write a song about anything, Newman’s master craftsmanship needs no introduction. If it does, go listen to ‘Louisiana 1927’ from 74’s Good Old Boys, or Toy Story’s ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’. Admit it, it’s already playing in your head.

Other characters are introduced over variations of Newman’s usual ragtimey arrangements – Sonny Boy Williamson’s ghost badmouthing the man who stole his name, a beach bum watching history go by, Monk the bananas germaphobe detective, and Vladimir Putin, who thinks it’s Russia’s turn in the comfy chair. Newman might want to start checking his chicken soup for polonium-210.

And then there are the ballads. ‘She Chose Me’ has a narrator incredulous in the face of his romantic good fortune. Sing it to your wife or girlfriend, not at the same time of course, and never be asked to take the bins out again. ‘Wandering Boy’ is a father’s prayer for his lost son, and, best of all, ‘Lost Without You’ is the tale of a man whose dying wife orders the kids to look after her husband no matter what. All three would break the heart of a tyrant, and are standards waiting to happen. Exceptionally good.

9/10

OUT NOW

 

Related Articles

Randy Newman adds second Dublin date

In addition to his November 3 slot, legendary American songwriter Randy Newman has added a second date at Dublin's Vicar St.

Read More

Randy Newman returns to Dublin

Oscar-winning songwriter Randy Newman will play a gig in Vicar Street this winter.

Read More

Harps and Angels

Sharp, incisive, funny and at times even heart-rending in the context of some beautifully-judged rag/country/Dixie-land songs.

Read More

Randy Newman for Vicar St

That most celebrated of American tunesmiths, Randy Newman, makes a long overdue return to Dublin on March 20 for an intimate gig in Vicar St.

Read More

Bad Love

Following a seemingly endless bout of movie soundtrack projects, Newman's first album proper in almost a decade has been hailed (most notably by Newman himself) as his best yet. Whether that's true or not is debatable, but Bad Love, produced by Mitchell Froom (Crowded House, Suzanne Vega, Ron Sexsmith etc.) is certainly up there with past glories such as Good Old Boys, Sail Away and Little Criminals.

Read More

RANDY NEWMAN

RANDY NEWMAN (National Stadium, Dublin)

Read More

Land Of Dreams

The Dreamtime of American life has been mapped out with loving delicacy and accuracy by Randy Newman during his career. His circus of characters, his small-ads style absurdities, his prompt wit have created an alternative vista of the United States.

Read More

Trouble In Paradise

Too often the assumption remains that seriousness, that angst, comprises the central ingredient in great songwriting.

Read More
 

Advertise With Us


For information including benefits, key facts, figures and rates for advertising with Hot Press, click below

Advertise

Find us elsewhere