Home Read Albums Of The Week: Loudon Wainwright III | Lifetime Achievement

Albums Of The Week: Loudon Wainwright III | Lifetime Achievement

Eight years after his last album of new material. the sharp-witted singer-songwriter returns to share his thoughts on life, love, aging, family, vacations and much more.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “His first album of new original songs since 2014’s Haven’t Got The Blues Yet, Lifetime Achievement finds Loudon Wainwright III in a state of deep reflection at age 75, sharing 15 recent insightful, incisive gems he wasn’t even planning to pen.

Says Wainwright: “I remember when I made my first record for Atlantic in 1969. I was always saying, ‘I want it to be a record — not only a recording, but a document that capture as a moment.’ I was 21 and very serious, and I thought I’d be dead in four years (laughs). So I wanted to make something that would last. A testament. Now, 50 years later, I guess I still want to make a testament. I want to write a group of songs and get them down in the best possible way. And I like to think they might last a while.”

The first single Town & Country finds Wainwright returning to his beloved Gotham after an extended stay in the country, thrilling to the round-the-clock wailing of sirens, the masked masses, and uninvited dinner guests of the rodent variety. Over a soulful groove and a hot band, he frames the “city vs. country” argument in his own inimitable style: ‘My dear mother was afraid of the city / She said don’t go there Loudie, it’s shady and it’s shitty / She was raised in the country, what could that poor woman know? / Father went to town, he was a working slob / Getting into trouble was his other job / There’s plenty of trouble in the city, that’s why folks go.”

Other album highlights include Fam Vac, a song about family vacations and the lived experience of Jean Paul Sartre’s famous observation that: “Hell is other people.” Following a recurring theme, the song Hell imagines a baseball diamond full of dictators. While Wainwright’s masterful wit and humour are on full contemplative display, so is his lump-in-the-throat tenderness, as on the a cappella One Wish.

While many tracks are stripped down, with just Wainwright and a guitar or light accompaniment, others are seasoned with horns, strings, lap steel and electric guitar work, featuring many of his frequent collaborators: Chaim Tannenbaum (vocals, banjo, harmonica), David Mansfield (violin, viola, mandolin, 12-string guitar, Weissenborn guitar, pedal steel), Tony Scherr (guitar and bass), Rich Pagano (drums, percussion), Jon Cowherd (Wurlitzer, organ), and others including a string arrangement by Rob Moose. It was recorded with two of his longtime producers, Dick Connette and Stewart Lerman.

After 30 albums, a Grammy, many film and TV credits, and songs recorded by such artists as Johnny Cash, Mose Allison, Bonnie Raitt and his son Rufus Wainwright, Loudon is perhaps our foremost six-string analyst and tragicomedian. And with Lifetime Achievement, his unmatched wit and wisdom has never been on sharper display.

Wainwright’s most recent album was 2020’s I’d Rather Lead a Band, a set of American Songbook selections near and dear to his personal history, recorded with Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks. In the past few years, he also published a widely celebrated memoir, Liner Notes, as well as a box set titled Years In The Making which explores rarities, oddities and never-before-released recordings made throughout his tremendous 50-year career.”