Newman's voice is an ugly, croaking instrument but oddly soulful all the same, as if Ray Charles one day woke up to find himself a portly white guy with gastric reflux and a sore throat. Those eccentric pipes are consummately suited to impart Newman's psychological profiles of the disenfranchised. Then there's his piano playing; equally informed by Scott Joplin, Fats Waller, Hoagy Carmichael and Gershwin himself. If you can't get past Newman's voice or are offended by his subjects, simply tune into his wonderfully stylish and melodic work on the 88s and regale yourself with his woefully underrated musicianship. Froggy boasts the complete package.
It has been four interminable years since Newman's last album, the classic Bad Love, was released. Enduring the wait for his next non-movie effort is more frustrating than marking time until the next season of The Sopranos hits the airwaves; meanwhile, satisfy your jones when Newman plays the Cerritos Center on Friday night.
Randy Newman performs at Cerritos Center, 12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos, Fri., 8 p.m. (800) 300-4345. $25-$60.