Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Loudon Wainwright III: Lifetime Achievement [Storysound, 2022]
Just two years ago this direct descendant of Peter Stuyvesant released the fully orchestrated standards album I'd Rather Lead a Band, and two years before that the half-spoken soundtrack to the Netflix special Surviving Twin, his acerbic, fondly admiring one-man show about Life magazine eminence Loudon Wainwright Jr. Since the idea on what I calculate to be his 30th album is to brag about reaching his 75th birthday, it is my sad duty to report that he did a better job on 2012's Older Than My Old Man Now, where he bragged about reaching his 65th birthday. But much more than on Surviving Twin, the most memorable stroke of which is a preposterously civilized reading of his dad's snobbish notes on the London tailor who fashioned his best suit, or I'd Rather Lead a Band, which broadens his perceived frame of reference rather than staking any meaningful claim on "Ain't Misbehavin'" much less adding his own "How I Love You" to the pop canon, this album is the 18th unmitigated keeper in what is by now a vast catalogue of bottomless facility and immense frame of reference. The most annoying track bewails a family vacation under the anxiety-prone title "Fam Vac." Thel most warming assumes the voice of a dog regretting his people's divorce. The most impressive reflects on the lifetime achievement of the title in the voice of a guy who sounds something like 50. Loudon Jr. died at 62. Assuming III cuts down on the wine, what he calls "It" may not get him for longer than he might well prefer--or so he believes at a not literally eternal 75. A-