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Kinky Friedman

The Loneliest Man I Ever Met – 2015 (Avenue A)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Kinky Friedman

With "The Loneliest Man I Ever Met" Kinky Friedman returns with his first full-length studio album since 1983. There is no new material as Friedman reworks some of his earlier compositions while mixing in some well-chosen covers. Even the excellent title track is technically a cover as this is Friedman's first recording of his collaboration with Will Hoover (released as "Loneliest Man" on Tompall Glaser's 1973 album "Charlie").

Loneliness is a recurring theme throughout as with Friedman's take on Hoover's "Freedom to Stay" and Tom Waits' "A Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis."

While probably best known for such audacious tunes as "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore" and "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed" Friedman here chooses to revisit a pair of his more somber ballads with "Lady Yesterday" and "Wild Man From Borneo." Friedman's harder edge is displayed with Warren Zevon's haunting observation on the aging process "My Shit's Fucked Up."

Some tracks recall Friedman's acoustic set from the 1995 compilation "From One Good American To Another," particularly the folksy renditions of Merle Haggard's "Momma's Hungry Eyes" and Johnny Cash's "Pickin' Time." Perhaps the most unlikely choice is the nicely delivered Lerner and Lowe show tune "Wand'rin Star" from the musical "Paint Your Wagon." Surprisingly the one somewhat disappointing cut is the opening "Bloody Mary Morning" on which Willie Nelson provides uninspired vocals along with an impressive guitar solo.

Produced by Brian Molnar (who also contributes on guitar) Friedman's effectively raspy vocals are well supported throughout by Joe Cirotti (guitar, bass, mandolin), Mickey Raphael (harmonica) and longtime Friedman sideman Jeff "Little Jewford" Shelby (piano). After three decades of writing acclaimed mystery novels and running unsuccessful political campaigns "The Loneliest Man I've Ever Met" is a triumphant return to the studio.