Loudon Wainwright III Recovery

When artists return to earlier material, they usually strip it down, as with that "unplugged” fad a while back. Ever the contrarian, veteran troubadour Wainwright does the opposite on this disc. The songs here that he "recovers” are primarily taken from his first three solo albums. Back then (the very early ’70s), he was a solo folkie, one of many being hailed as "the new Dylan.” His preference then was for very simple acoustic accompaniment but Wainwright and producer Joe Henry have reframed the tunes with the assistance of some stellar players. There’s Canadian content here, in the form of bassist David Piltch (Holly Cole), Bill Frisell makes a couple of cameo appearances and guitar ace Greg Leisz’s contributions also give resonance and depth to songs that stand up well 35 years (and more) on. Similarly, Wainwright’s voice has gone the distance nicely. There are a couple of lyrical clunkers (i.e., "when the feces hit the fan,” from "Man Who Couldn’t Cry”) that should have been excised but his typically incisive and witty wordplay retains its lustre. The passing of time adds extra meaning to a line like "in Delaware when I was younger” (from an album highlight, "School Days”). This is a collection sure to please Loudon loyalists and it’s a good place to start for those curious about checking out the work of Rufus and Martha’s dad. (Yep Roc)