Newman spent 10 of his early years in New Orleans listening to Ray Charles and Louis Armstrong but was born in (and later returned to) Los Angeles – where he spent time with at least six, Hollywood composer, relatives.
Newman as a contradictory musical dichotomy is apparent in nearly everything he makes. Sardonic and cutting lyrics overlaid on bluesy-pop piano. If his vocals were not delivered with such genuine and charmingly articulated clarity, Newman may have been written off as a rambling lunatic.
12 Songs is loaded with Newman gems, such as the Ry Cooder backed “Mama Told Me Not To Come”, (which would float at number one for several weeks thanks to Three Dog Night) but the real sleeper track is “If You Need Oil”, recounting the “rambling thoughts of a bored gas station attendant”. His portrayal of grief and loneliness is stunning and it is at once within this track that Newman’s comedic “Short People”, “Korean Parents”, “Political Science”, etc. come into focus as the biting social commentary they were meant to be.
Enjoy Newman’s glistening Hollywood sauntering.. and then listen a bit deeper, for his raw portrayals of everyday folk heros, losers, and freaks as the stories unravel from his most unusual viewpoint.