Kinky Friedman

Circus of Life (Echo Hill)

Texas Platters

Kinky Friedman's return to music remains a blessing for fans of his unique brand of ornery wit and wisdom. 2015's The Loneliest Man I Ever Met, the infamous raconteur's first new studio recordings in almost 40 years, revealed a more reflective Kinkster and Circus of Life follows suit with songs more intent on substance than satire. Outsiders and rebels still populate his narratives, but life has taken its increasingly weary toll on the 73-year-old songwriter, who triangulates somewhere between Kris Kristofferson, Harry Chapin, and Leonard Cohen. The title track and standout "Jesus in Pajamas" linger poignantly in offering an acerbic eye toward social ironies, while "Back to Grace" and "Sister Sarah" strike touchingly earnest and poetic. "Autographs in the Rain (Song to Willie)" rollicks as a sincere ode alongside Mickey Raphael's trademark harmonica whine. The "Texas Jewboy" has settled into the role of wry witness as much as firebrand satirist.

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