Picks and Pans Review: Therapy

updated 07/03/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/03/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Loudon Wainwright III

The clever singer-songwriter returns with more songs about, well, about Loudon Wainwright III. As he notes with his customary asperity on "Harry's Wall": "I guess by now you've noticed/ Almost all the songs I write/ Somehow pertain to me." Self-examination provides the best selections on Therapy, including the aforementioned "Harry's Wall," which is about the questionable benefits of minor celebrity, such as having your own 8x10 glossy tacked up at the dry cleaner you patronize. "Thanksgiving" contains the bitter musings of a middle-aged man at an annual family gathering. When Wainwright turns to his other forte, observing contemporary social mores, his usually acute if jaundiced eye is a little rheumy.

Some of his lyrics are fairly obvious. For instance, he mocks the MTV generation on "TSDHAV" (an acronym for "this song don't have a video") by noting of his own output: "There's no cleavage footage/ And not one single midget." "Fly Paper," about a bad romance, is clunky measured against Wainwright's usually witty turns of phrase. While singing on the jaunty "Your Father's Car" about the pitfalls to avoid in adult relationships with one's parents and offspring, he does get off a few good lines: "When you drink at your mother's house/ Have a couple but don't get soused/ You don't want to play surrogate spouse with her/ When you drink at your mother's house." Therapy is an uneven effort for Wainwright, but if joke-folk is your cup of chamomile, he's still the best show in town. (RCA)

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