Randy Newman sings on Saturday at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (30 Second St.). The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, winner of six Grammys, two Oscars, three Emmys and more, just released “Dark Matter,” his first (mostly) new collection in nine years. Like his film scores, these songs conjure clear mental visions: three uncles composed film music: Alfred, Lionel and Emil; as do cousins Thomas, Maria, David and Joey. Like his pop songs, they’re pungently sarcastic or sweetly sentimental.
“Dark Matter” views history through a skeptical eye: “The Great Debate” revisits the arguments of “Rednecks” on “Good Old Boys” (1974) about the south. “Sonny Boy” decries identity theft among bluesmen as cultural (and not just career) appropriation, “Brothers” portrays the Kennedys as hyper-entitled horn-dogs who staged the Bay of Pigs invasion to bring singer Celia Cruz to America, and “It’s a Jungle Out There” sounds more scary than the original (the 2004 theme song for “Monk”), now that its doleful prophecies are coming true. You can guess what “Putin” is about, but Newman casts the doubt-free dictator in an existential crisis.
After bracing gusts of sarcasm, Newman wafts breezes of gentle sentiment in “She Chose Me,” contrast conferring powerful poignancy — just as he did at my first Jazz Fest (’08) when he proclaimed New Orleans “my favorite place on earth” and mourned its drowning in 1927, completely wiping out 20,000 of us with one sad song. Newman can walk both sides of the street at once: “Lost Without You” stirs love and loss together in a fiery stew almost…
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