Randy Newman offers solid defense

On the piano, strings and steel guitar gem “A Few Words In Defense of My Country,” Newman supports the U.S.A. by comparing our leaders to men like Hitler, Stalin and King Leopold — but then predicts it’s the end of an empire for America.

Newman concludes the album on a high note, though, with “Feels Like Home,” a love song that hits as hard as past ballads like “Love Story (You and Me)” and “Marie.” The lyrics are more simple this time around, but the vocals display a sincerity of emotion rarely displayed on past Newman records.3.5 out of 5 stars.

"A Few Words in Defense of My Country"


"I Love L.A."


On his best-known material outside the film world, Randy Newman managed to largely cloak biting satire in hummable melodies and sing along choruses resulting in first-class bait and switches, the finest being “I Love L.A.” The song is a fixture at Los Angeles sports arenas despite including such lines as “Look at that bum over there, man/ He's down on his knees.”

On Harps and Angels, Newman’s first proper album in nearly a decade, the acerbic singer/songwriter makes no effort to placate casual listeners, keeping the focus on the mostly misanthropic lyrics, which are more spoken than sung. Laidback, New Orleans piano and minimal orchestration accompany the singer. Newman, the fellow responsible for the atheist anthem “God’s Song,” starts the disc by second guessing his non-belief in the humorous title track.

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