Randy Newman, Harps and Angels
Feeling quintessentially Newman-esque
After almost a decade releasing film scores instead of pop songs, Newman returns with an album that could be said to show his age (after all, it’s about lost love, mortality and parenting), except that those subjects have been in his wheelhouse all along. In fact, the album feels quintessentially Newman-esque, with “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country” playing like the third song in a trilogy with “Political Science” and “The Great Nations of Europe.” “Korean Parents,” meanwhile, is a biting Tiger Mother send-up, and the sunny “Laugh and Be Happy” is so blithe that you think Newman, the irony king, can’t possibly be serious. But the real standout is the title track – a droll tale of one man’s brief visit to the afterlife, with a melody and a lyric that could’ve been written by anyone else.