Jonathan Richman: SA (Blue Arrow Records, 2018)

April 8, 2019 at 11:48 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Jonathan Richman: SA

One of the patron saints of college radio returns with another set of poetry, folk rock, and wide eyed optimism. The nearly 68-year-old troubadour is joined here by former Modern Lover and Talking Head Jerry Harrison, and Jonathan’s wife Nicole Mantalbano plays tambura on most songs, giving it a droning, Eastern feel, but otherwise it’s the type of sound you’d expect from old Jojo. “My Love She Is From Somewhere Else” is pretty fun and offbeat, and my favorite song here. “The Fading Of An Old World” is basically a riff on the Modern Lovers’ “Old World”, except instead of saying he still loves the old world, he’s saying he doesn’t want to go back. Here he’s talking about not wanting to go back to the days of corsets, but you know he’s alluding to not wanting to play his old material. “O Mind! Let Us Go Home” has a hypnotic sort of Krautrock vibe, like an unplugged Can, but with Jonathan singing. Really, a lot of this album has a sort of improvised jammy feel unlike usual Richman albums. If you’ve ever wanted to hear an 8-minute Jojo zone-out, check out “O Mind! Just Dance!” “This Lovers’ Lane Is Very Narrow”, however, is a sort of weird existential ego trip mantra. “Alegre Soy!” is the perhaps-obligatory Spanish tune, and it’s quite charming, really. A bit more cloying is “Yes, Take Me Home”, which is sung from the point of view of a dog in a kennel wanting badly to be adopted. Like a lot of Richman’s solo albums, this one’s no masterpiece, but it’ll do if you’re already a fan and you need a quick pick-me-up.

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