Jonathan Richman Not So Much to be Loved as to Love

Jonathan Richman Not So Much to be Loved as to Love
Since first fronting punk pioneers the Modern Lovers in the early 1970s, Jonathan Richman has been writing some of the most intelligent and heart-wrenching pop songs to come out of the U.S. Over the years, there have been some subtle and not-so subtle musical twists and turns in Richman’s songwriting approach but, by and large, his distinctive voice and witty lyrics have always shone through. Richman’s famous charm is ever-present on this latest collection of new classics, which gently evokes the kind of lazy summer days its mid-June release will surely usher in. From the confessional title track to the sweet "My Baby Love Love Loves Me” and the stirring "Behold the Lilies of the Field,” Richman has light-hearted romance on the mind throughout much of the album. Though not as obvious to Anglophones, Richman’s penchant for French ("Les Etoiles” and "On a du Soleil”) and Spanish songs ("Cosi Veloce” and "In Che Mondi Viviamo”) also reveals a teasing bent to his jazzy pop and heart-melting balladry. Perhaps adding to the art collection he began with "Pablo Picasso” years ago, two of the album’s most impassioned performances are Richman’s celebrations of "Vincent Van Gogh” and "Salvador Dali.” A sombre chord is struck in the childlike wonderment of "I Had a Dream that the Sea…” and the politically-charged "Abu Jamal,” a dignified lament about the struggle of death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal that is poignant in spite of Richman’s distracting attempt to narrowly rhyme Susan Sarandon with "…the list goes on and on.” Since he first arrived on the music scene, Jonathan Richman’s songwriting sensibility has maintained a timeless quality, cementing his cross-generational appeal as a lyricist of the highest calibre. Long-time fans of his earnest material and Richman rookies alike are in for a treasure trove in seeking out this excellent new album. (Vapor)