Loudon Wainwright III,
Here Come the Choppers
(Sovereign, 2005)

You just can't escape that talented dynasty of musicians, the Wainwrights. We've got the amazingly talented, camp, prodigal son Rufus and the rebellious rocking daughter Martha who detests her father so much she wrote the song "Bloody Motherfucking Asshole" in his honour. Not knowing the man himself, I can only go by his musical legacy, in which there are 295 songs listed on 'Net (and that is a pretty good track record). The man is an unadulterated genius and the rest must be hereditary.

Here Come the Choppers is essential Wainwright, from the original, Loudon Wainwright III. Loudon gets a lot of his inspiration from cinematic locations that he was visiting as a guest actor. On his CD liner notes he has a short synopsis of how each of the songs developed, the funniest one being "My Biggest Fan" in which the song's protagonist is described as the physically largest person ever to visit Loudon's dressing room only to proclaim he was his biggest fan. Loudon, forever ironic, used this image to compose this tribute tune for his fan.

There are amazing musicians on this CD, such as Jim Keltner on drums. Keltner has worked with the cream of the crop, including the Beatles and Rolling Stones. There is also a singer I have never heard of, Coco Love Alcorn, who has one of the smoothest, soulful voices I have heard bordering on black velvet. She appears as a singer in both "Had to Be Her" and "Hank & Fred." (Loudon was in Montgomery, Ala., working on Tim Burton's movie Big Fish when he wrote "Hank & Fred," a country-flavoured tribute to Hank Williams and Fred Rogers.)

Loudon is always a prolific writer and produces work that expresses his viewpoint. In "To Be on TV," he uses grotesque imagery of mourning, ghosts and living in tombs that he lyrically uses to describe an existence of displacement while also mocking those who seek fame and fortune and are desperate to appear on television in any capacity. "God's Country" is a rocker while "When You Leave" is more folk-oriented, even though it contains pedal steel. This song contains a glimmer of insinuation that it could be about his own offspring.

The CD is extremely well produced and has extremely diverse instrumentation on it including lap steel, pedal steel, mandolin and electric guitar, 5-string banjo, acoustic guitar, electric and acoustic bass.

A fusion of folk and country, blues and bluegrass, I suppose you could say it has an Americana twist. Here Come the Choppers is a great album. Period.

by Risa Duff
25 November 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.