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World Music CD Reviews North American

Randy Newman

By Michael Stone
Published October 16, 2008

Harps And Angels
Nonesuch

Harps And Angels reprises a droll, garrulous, heartfelt Crescent City gospel-blues sensibility that longtime Newman fans will gleefully recognize. The good old boy – struck down by a heart attack, hearing the angel band before copping a pearly gate reprieve – might be the singer himself, or anyone who’s confronted the inexorable finality of life as we know it. Newman combines a smart show-tune sensibility (“A Piece of the Pie,” “Laugh and Be Happy”) with wry sentimentality (“Losing You,” “Feels Like Home”), provocative social commentary (“A Few Words in Defense Of Our Country” – in ironic country western mode, with a righteously aggravated Supreme Court send-up), the certain fate of rich old men (“Only A Girl”), political incorrectness (“Korean Parents”), senior moments (“Potholes,” as in “God bless the potholes down memory lane”), and a prickly finger on the absurd, entropic pulse of the human condition (listener’s choice). Harps and angels, hallelujah.