Harps And Angels - Randy Newman
Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. It remains extraordinary this ability to jump from Tom Lehrer to early Tom Waits.
  2. 100
    Sharp, incisive, funny and at times even heart-rending in the context of some beautifully-judged rag/country/Dixie-land songs.
  3. Never have his arrangements exploited his soundtrack chops so subtly, changeably or precisely.
  4. This is Newman’s most touching, musically rich and consistent record since "Good Old Boys" way back in 1974; and it’s hilarious to boot.
  5. Harps and Angels belongs up there with "12 Songs" and "Sail Away" as one of Newman’s greatest works, regardless if he took 20 years to get it out into the public.
  6. The characters are memorable, the satire sharp, the music luxurious, and the arrangements maybe the most gorgeous in all pop music.
  7. Yet as welcome as it is to have Newman’s acerbic wit back, it remains a singular pleasure to listen to a simple, devastating ballad like 'Losing You,' which is wrapped up in sympathetic strings and absolutely devoid of irony.
  8. Newman’s work here demands high praise, especially with his resume.
  9. The stunning title track proves that Newman, at age 64, has more healthy bile in him than 64 twentysomethings....Harps has a couple of duds, though. [8 Aug 2008, p.68]
  10. Some of the more on-the-nose satire falls flat....Still, heart-on-the-sleeve tracks like 'Losing You' and 'Feels Like Home' feature Newman at his most affecting.
  11. 80
    His delievry now possesses a wry, self-deprecating warmth which, along with Mitchell Froom and Lenny Waronker's unobtrusive production, suggests a man coming to terms with it all and who realises he's as much a part of this mess as anyone. [Sep 2008, p.110]
  12. 80
    Newman is at his most affecting when he plays it mercilessly straight: his flickers of sincerity all the more beguiling for only appearing rarely.
  13. 80
    This is Newman’s most unwound album.
  14. It's his signature sound and Harps and Angels captures it sublimely, as the production--a co-credit to Newman's longtime associate Lenny Waronker and his latter-day producer Mitchell Froom--has no fancy accoutrements and he's written another set of quietly wonderful songs.
  15. So his return to political-minded material on Harps and Angels is reason to wrap yourself in the flag and cheer.
  16. 80
    He's still way too fond of show-tune orchestration, and then there's the tossed-off corny stuff, but the orneriness of Newman's now-64-year-old wit makes George Carlin seem like Dane Cook. [Sep 2008, p.120]
  17. Randy Newman's shock-and-aw-shucks wit is so joyfully scathing at times on "Harps and Angels" that it's hard to believe it's been nine years since his last album of new material.
  18. Newman is a master of sardonic humor, be it subtle or slapstick. Harps and Angels is further proof.
  19. 40 years after his debut, the curly-haired songwriter continues to play to his strength: three-minute social commentaries that might sound bitter if they weren't so funny.
  20. A savvy storyteller with an acid-tipped language, Newman packages yarns in a voice that is the sonic equivalent of an Emmett Kelly clown face, naturally hangdog while subtly playful as he reminisces about life's rough patches.
  21. Harps and Angels is another fine Randy Newman album, minimally produced by Mitchell Froom and Lenny Waronker.
  22. If Harps and Angels occasionally seems uneven, it's because Newman is still so daring. If it seems occasionally classic, it's because he's still so insightful and startlingly good at writing songs.
  23. Intermittently brilliant, occasionally belligerent, it presents a vision of American identity as sprawling and ultimately as confused as the country itself.
  24. Anyone who doesn't actually live for updates from Iowan caucuses can safely skip the whole ragtime politicking middle section and, instead, enjoy the work of a true master of popular song.
  25. It's hard to slate Harps and Angels too much, because the music is actually quite good in places and it's nowhere near bad enough to be a chore to listen to.

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