by Philip Booth
Hollywood hasnt quite ruined Randy Newman for pop music, but big-screen duties sure have hogged his time. The prolific composer of film sound tracks hasnt given us a real solo album not counting 1995s all-star Faust project since the affecting Land of Dreams, released all of 11 years ago.
For Bad Love, Newman has, perhaps as a result of his cinematic offerings, cranked out material thats more evocative than ever, beginning with "Shame," the self-mocking interior monologue of a lonely middle-ager begging his sweet young thing to come back to her sugar daddy. His bitter complaints "Do you know what it feels like/To have to beg a little bum like you for love?" are countered by female gospel-rock vocalists, gleefully wielding the songs title like a knife.
The singer, who recently split from his wife and two children, spills blood all over these piano-centered tunes and word pictures, hoping for healing that wont come on the ballad "Every Time It Rains"; bemoaning a love affair gone wrong on "Better Off Dead," all distant, muted trumpets and sickly sweet strings; and going to the heart of the darkness on the stark "I Miss You," so autobiographical as to include a reference to Idaho, the real home of Newmans old flame. Bad Love hurts so good.