Randy Newman

Harps and Angels (Nonesuch)

Phases & Stages

Randy Newman

Harps and Angels (Nonesuch)

With his first recording in nine years, Randy Newman says adios. Not to his music career of 40-something years but to the U.S.'s reign as a superpower. In the brilliantly arch "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country," released as a single last year (and published as a New York Times op-ed piece), Newman aligns the Bush administration's failings with the worst excesses of the Caesars, the Spanish Inquisition, and Leopold of Belgium before noting, "The end of an empire is messy at best, and this empire is ending like all the rest." It's grouped with a jaunty prescriptive for immigrants ("Laugh and Be Happy"), a Weimar cabaret-style complaint about life at the bottom ("A Piece of the Pie"), a Manhattan cabaret-style primer on life at the top ("Easy Street"), and a sales pitch for success through discipline by Asian elders ("Korean Parents") in a five-song run that constitutes a State of the Union address more honest, more inclusive, more insightful, and funnier than any you'll hear from a chief executive (or candidate for the office). Newman's piercing critique of this American life is shot through with his trademark empathy and justice for all, even the liars and losers. More of the songwriter's endearing ne'er-do-wells populate the disc's other songs, such as the beguiling title track in which one recounts his near-death encounter with the Almighty and his backup singers. The characters are memorable, the satire sharp, the music luxurious, and the arrangements maybe the most gorgeous in all pop music. Hello, Randy. Don't say goodbye for a long, long time.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Randy Newman
ACL Live Shots
Randy Newman

Jim Caligiuri, Sept. 23, 2011

ACL Music Fest Sunday Interviews
Randy Newman
The American treasure turns the tables, asks the questions

Jim Caligiuri, Sept. 16, 2011

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Carson McHone
Carousel (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, Nov. 9, 2018

Texas Platters
Texacala Jones
Pony Island Express (Record Review)

Tim Stegall, Nov. 9, 2018

More by Robert Faires
Mary Moody Northen Theatre's <i>Men on Boats</i>
Mary Moody Northen Theatre's Men on Boats
With a diverse cast of women playing white men exploring the Grand Canyon, this show recasts history to show guys who just don't get it

Nov. 16, 2018

Moontower Comedy 2019: The First Wave
Moontower Comedy 2019: The First Wave
Festival welcomes Jenny Slate and David Spade as headliners

Nov. 9, 2018


Randy Newman

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle