Equally perverse and brilliant, Loudon Wainwright III has made a career and inspired a rabid cult following by dissecting the smelly remains of his—and all of our—foibles, gaffes, blunders, flaws, misdemeanors, and irksome tendencies. Over some 40 years now, he's done so wielding an acoustic guitar, a psychologist's unflinching clinical insight, a mordant wit honed to a fine point, a blistering sense of irony, and a schoolboy's brutal honesty. No wonder he's in recovery, or actually, Recovery (Yep Roc), the title of his latest album. It's rife with multiple meanings but most explicitly refers to Wainwright's reworking of 13 songs from the nascent days of his career. There's always been a virulent undercurrent of poignancy in Wainwright's stuff, and it manifests itself in dozens of ways as the 62-year-old revisits tunes written more than half a lifetime ago, including "School Days" with its ego-pumped protagonist, and "Needless to Say," which almost sounds like an epitaph. Wainwright and producer Joe Henry have added rich new arrangements layered with tasty touches from the likes of guitarists Greg Leisz and Bill Frisell. Thus "Needless" emphasizes weepy country blues, while "The Drinking Song" acquires aptly inebriated rhythms from drummer Jay Bellerose and bassist David Piltch. Like the characters in "Old Friend" but with far more purpose, Recovery is all about Wainwright "kiss(ing) the past's ass all night long" and regretting nary a smooch.
Mon., Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m., 2008