Bad Love is Newman's 1st studio work since 1988 and 10th solo album. This album follows on the heels of his 3 recent Oscar nominated works, an unprecedented feat in Academy Award history: Babe: Pig in the City, a Bug's Life and Pleasantville. Newman's legacy boasts an impressive 17 soundtracks and 9 solo albums (including the gold selling Little Criminals) and this album features production by Mitchell Froom & Tchad Blake (Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello, Los Lobos, Suzanne Vega).
Three songs into Bad Love
, Randy Newman lobs a smart bomb into the bunker of classic rock, impersonating a boomer-aged rocker just going through the motions, "Each record that [he's] making ... like a record that [he's] made--just not as good." Giving the punch line added snap is the happy irony of Newman's own music at midlife, which proves as perceptive, funny, and, yes, moving as any he's recorded. Comparisons to past triumphs are inevitable here, and mostly favorable, starting with the mock piety of "My Country," an anthem to America's virtual family life entranced by television, "having other people's voices fill our minds." Elsewhere, he grins through a new geopolitical patter song ("The Great Nations of Europe"), undertakes his own dialectic on materialism with the ghost of Karl Marx ("The World Isn't Fair"), and, in the album's mordant zenith, conjures the sputtering jealousy and lust of an elderly New Orleans burgher smitten by a sweet young thing. That song, "Shame," embellishes a piano blues that might have fit snugly on 12 Songs
, with choral and instrumental flourishes that are apt and hilarious--mocking female singers repeat the title in frank emulation of Sylvia Robinson's venerable disco hit, while elsewhere Newman's arrangements suggest Carl Stalling
's vivid Looney Tunes scores. --Sam Sutherland