Loudon Wainwright III

Grown Man

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An album topped with wit and sharp humor, blended with a dash of railing vinegar, Grown Man, like all perceptive social satire, leaves you both laughing in recognition and crying in frustration at the human foibles it elucidates. Wainwright deals efficiently with all the standard preoccupations -- middle age ("The Birthday Present"), dependence ("Grown Man"), death ("That Hospital") -- but it are the odd twists that put the hair on Grown Man's chest. "Father Daughter Dialogue" gives his real-life daughter a free swing at his errant, vagabond minstrel ways as she sings the song's first half. "IWIWAL" skirts controversy, but the rockin' hoe-down is so good humored and ridiculously overblown ("I wish I was a Lesbian/I'd like to be a dyke/I would hang with k.d. lang/Mel Gibson take a hike/I think it would be nice to love someone who was alike") that the offended reaction of radicals on either end of the Gay Rights/Family Values tug of war would say far more about them than about Wainwright himself. "Housework" is a hilarious faux-country weeper from the perspective of a male abandoned to household chores while his wife parties ("And herein lies the rub: I even did the tub") -- and damn if the chorus doesn't curve in the trademark vocal style of his former spouse Kate McGarrigle -- it's the one moment Wainwright appears to turn the screw with an edge of malice. Then again, it may just be that there's more of the "real" Loudon Wainwright III in these songs than he's willing to let on.

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