Veteran singer/songwriter proves it’s never too late to make a first impressionWith the help of producer Joe Henry, Loudon Wainwright III has been excavating his own past, and he’s disgorged some hibernating gems from his first four albums, revisiting ghosts that haunted him 35 years ago. But the acerbic singer—one time pretender to Dylan’s mighty throne, and pater familias of singers Rufus and Martha Wainwright—didn’t just rehash his own history, he reinterpreted events from his messy biography, tearing the scabs off old wounds and letting them breathe fresh oxygen, turning his formerly sparse and spiny castigations about alcohol, diffident parenting and fame into something much more insightful and profound. Whereas the younger Wainwright was just pissed off and erudite, here his ruminations on the same events are more bittersweet, and flawed, putting a more human face on his formerly shrill denouncements of himself and those near—and not-so-dear—to him.
Recovery is, of course, a pun from the dad of Martha and Rufus. Alcoholism ('Drinking Song'), and long-distance touring ('Motel Blues') are there, but it's also all dinosaur-excavated reworkings from his early 1970-73 career. There are great finds - 'Man Who Couldn't Cry' - but some bones are best unpolished. 'Muse Blues' says it: 'Oh muse, where are you?/ I don't know what to do...' .