The short story:is 's first album of songs in 20 years. The long story: it is actually a collection of compilation tracks and unreleased studio sessions recorded between 1987 and 2001. No matter if you already own a few of these, a pop album by this man is a rarity -- and that is truly a shame. Of course, as a respected improviser, serious composer, and educator, anything lighter from this pillar of modern music will meet with severe criticism from people who take themselves too seriously. Lighten up! was the best tongue-in-cheek take at the New Wave. If lacks its thematic focus, it still makes a very fine album, much friendlier to the listener, and truly enjoyable. The known material includes two cover songs for Tzadik tribute CDs to and , "Life of a Detective" recorded with 's in 1990, and "True Love" released in 1987 on a Shimmydisc comp (and later included as a bonus track on RecRec's reissue of ). The new material consists of seven pieces recorded for the WDR (German radio) in 1997.
These multi-tracked songs were written and recorded spontaneously.derives his lyrics from the newspapers of the day, uses samples to provide rhythm tracks, and pulls off a couple of excellent songs ("I Want It To Be Over," quoting Bill Clinton in an interview related to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, is a highlight) and instrumental pieces. "Reduce Me" was recorded in 2001 using the same method. The album has been carefully constructed to tone down its "collection" nature and it works well, thanks of course to 's humor and pop sensibility. Come on, surely you can live with that! Highly recommended.