Al­bums

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - — Gra­ham Am­brose

Randy New­man, “Dark Mat­ter”

To the unini­ti­ated, en­dur­ing singer-pi­anist-com­poser Randy New­man is de­pend­ably fam­ily-friendly, the Buzz Lightyear or Mike Wa­zowski of sen­ti­men­tal pop. But his fans know bet­ter. On “Dark Mat­ter,” the 73-year- old’s first stu­dio re­lease in nine years, New­man puts a new var­nish on his sig­na­ture so­cial com­men­tary. It’s a sound­track for the present po­lit­i­cal mo­ment, and the vo­cal lib­eral pulls no punches. “The Great De­bate” opens the record with a farce of car­ni­val sci­ence and Broad­way pageantry. “Putin” skew­ers the Rus­sian pres­i­dent from the per­spec­tive of “the Putin man” him­self. He’s not al­ways con­tentious, though. On the al­bum’s best tracks – “Lost With­out You” and “She Chose Me,” which wa­ter the eyes like a Pixar mon­tage – the ag­ing bari­tone croaks with a young man’s pas­sion. Po­lit­i­cal the­ater meets mu­si­cal the­ater on the cin­e­matic “Dark Mat­ter,” a show fit for the sil­ver screen.

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