Strange Weirdos releases May 22 on Concord Records, and is the soundtrack to writer/director Judd Apatow’s follow-up to the box-office smash The 40-Year-Old Virgin. It is also a showpiece for Loudon Wainwright III and his collaborator, singer/songwriter, and producer Joe Henry who was enlisted by Wainwright after the artist was approached by longtime fan/ director Apatow to create the music for his latest film.
The album features new Wainwright songs, including the title track, “Strange Weirdos,” the melancholy “Valley Morning,” the tongue-in-cheek look at a midlife crisis, “Doin’ the Math,” and the Hollywood homage “Grey in L.A.” (my personal favorite), which gives a shout out to green queen Laurie David. Additional music includes covers of Mose Allison’s “I Feel So Good” and Peter Blegvad’s “Daughter,” the song Loudon originally recorded with Joe Henry two years ago for a charity album.
The band that played on that track, dubbed by Henry as his Wrecking Crew, accompanies Wainwright on the new album. Members include keyboardist Patrick Warren, bassist David Piltch, drummer Jay Bellerose, and guitarist Greg Leisz, along with special guests such as legendary British guitarist Richard Thompson, who plays on “Grey In L.A.,” and Brian Wilson collaborator Van Dyke Parks, who contributes accordion to the song “Daughter.”
Loudon Wainwright III’s Strange Weirdos: Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture Knocked Up is a great conversation starter. Not to mention the unusual title, the music itself is reminiscent of John Hiatt or even Jackson Browne. With catchy melodies and songs about the ordinary, this CD could easily be the soundtrack of a day in the life of, well, anyone.
While it will definitely take several listens to learn all the words to Wainwright’s latest songs, as they seem more like poetry than songs, the laid-back Strange Weirdos is upbeat and catchy — and I plan to listen until I learn every word by heart.