LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III – Haven’t Got The Blues (Yet)
aaamusic | On 21, Jun 2014
Not all the songs on this album are in Loudon’s comfort zone as is evidenced by the opener ‘Brand New Dance’, which tries to be a raunchy Rockin’ Blues in the style of Jerry Lee Lewis but comes up rather like your goofy Uncle singing Karaoke. He is far more effective and believable when singing the country and delta blues influenced tunes like ‘Depression Blues‘, the smile-inducing ‘Man And His Dog’ and the title track ‘Haven’t Got The Blues (Yet)’.
‘Spaced‘ finds Wainwright right in his element playfully spewing lyrics and stretching his voice out in a roller-coaster of rhymes and melodies. He flirts with a light-hearted and jumpy Klezmer style here and it’s a natural fit for his rambunctious lyrics. He revisits this style on ‘The Morgue’, which is about as happy a tune as you could write about a dead friend.
The sparsely produced ‘In A Hurry‘ is about a homeless man, who feels compassion for the people who pass him by, and like ‘Harmless‘ and ‘Last Day Of The Year’ it has that folk flavour that fans of Loudon’s will be well familiar with.
‘Harlan County‘ is a country folk song where you can instantly feel the haunting power of Wainwright’s simple but supremely effective song writing. It also features some beautiful vocal harmonies and ends with a hoedown flourish evoking the sound of old time Kentucky. ‘God & Nature‘ features some great mandolin and banjo playing as well as some more splendid vocal harmonies.
‘I Knew Your Mother’ is a sweet tune that explains a failed relationship to the child that resulted from the ill-fated union. ‘Look At The Calendar’ reminds us to always be the people we are on those “special” days we mark out in our planners. Both songs are written from the heart but are not as memorable musically as they are lyrically.
‘I’ll be Killing You This Christmas’ tries to make light of the gun culture in the United States but comes short of the mark and is over simplistic in it’s outlook on the 2nd Amendment. The playing on this Jazzy tune is impeccable and the laidback pace belies the tune’s whimsically homicidal message.
All the songs on Haven’t Got The Blues (Yet) are performed with a deft human touch and I doubt very much whether the words “metronome“ or “click track” were spoken on these session as the music’s tempo often ebbs and flows matching the energy and purpose behind Loudon’s vocal delivery. He’s written a great clutch of tunes and it’s hard not to find yourself smiling on most of these tracks. You can hear that after all these years Wainwright is still vital and, crucially, still having fun.