Looking to glean clues about Lovett's married life? Sorry, these 18 tunes predate his marriage to Julia Roberts
. He wrote them over the years but never found a home for them.
Lovett has never been a Pollyanna, and this is his weirdest, most misanthropic record yet. But he's no finger-pointer: his satires also skewer himself. "Fat Babies" catalogs a cynical narrator's dislikes, from cornbread to fat-baby smell, and includes his surprise at finding his romantic counterpart: "I like you/And you like me/ And you don't like much." "Creeps Like Me" is the bitterest of all; its narrator, who steals his dead grandmother's gold tooth for a ring, blandly insists that "this world is full of creeps like me."
Rarely does such crankiness go down as easily as it does here. Lovett sings beautifully and writes soulful folk-pop melodies; it's a pleasure, moreover, to hear lyrics that are animated by an actual, functioning intelligence. The dedicatee, by the way, is "Julia"—so at least we know they're talking. (Curb/MCA)