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10 Songs for the New Depression

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10 Songs for the New Depression
On the left half of a black-and-white album cover, the text "10 Songs for the New Depression" along the top and "Loudon Wainwright III" along the bottom. On the right half, an image of a man with crossed legs sitting on a bench, holding a guitar and an American flag. Behind the man is a "Welcome" sign, a mounted fire extinguisher and a window with the "No Public Restrooms" sign.
Studio album by Loudon Wainwright III
Released July 2010
Genre Folk, pop rock[1]
Length 30:00
Label Proper
Loudon Wainwright III chronology
High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project
(2009)High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project2009
10 Songs for the New Depression
(2010)
Older Than My Old Man Now
(2012)Older Than My Old Man Now2012

10 Songs for the New Depression is the twenty-first studio album by American singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, released in July 2010 through Proper Records.[2] Released forty years following his first studio album, 10 Songs is Wainwright's first album since his Grammy Award-winning tribute project High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project (2009).[2] The concept album was inspired by the late-2000s global financial crisis and recession, and features Wainwright backed by his own banjo, guitar and ukulele performances.

Wainwright began writing songs for the album following the inauguration of Barack Obama in January 2009. The album features ten original songs and two cover versions of songs originally written and recorded during the Great Depression. Lyrical references throughout 10 Songs include economists Alan Greenspan, John Maynard Keynes and Paul Krugman, President Barack Obama, and the government program Car Allowance Rebate System (more commonly known as "cash for clunkers"). Overall, critical reception of the album was positive. 10 Songs reached peak positions of number thirty-eight on the United Kingdom's Top Independent Albums chart and number twelve on the Top 40 Independent Albums Breakers chart.

Development and promotion[edit]

Wainwright began writing songs for the album following the January 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama.[3] In January 2010, Wainwright said the following of the album:

As of this writing some folks are saying things are looking up recession wise and this particular hard time might be ending. Other experts are saying we're in for a "double-dip" and there's more feces heading toward the national and global fans. If that's the case I'd like to cash in. So buddy if you can spare a few bucks, please enjoy 10 Songs for the New Depression![4][5]

On February 22, The New Yorker featured a video of Wainwright performing "The Krugman Blues" and complimenting the publication's March 2010 article which profiled economist Paul Krugman.[4][6] Part of "Cash for Clunkers" was featured in a segment of NPR's program Car Talk.[5] Wainwright was able to promote the album by touring both before and after the album's release. The Loud and Rich Tour, which co-headlined Wainwright and long-time friend Richard Thompson, began in the fall of 2009 and continued into 2011.[7][8][9]

Composition[edit]

I've been thinking for years now that nothing really bad would happen to me in what's left of my life time. I dodged the draft (Vietnam) and miraculously drifted into a fun and rewarding career. Divorce, guilt, and the death of a parent have been about as bad as it's gotten for me in 63 years. What luck! Even 9/11 and most certainly Darfur seem at a remove from my actual existence. It's strange then that towards the end of said existence there's been a kind of catastrophic feeling in the air. Rather exciting and certainly something to write and sing about.[5]
Loudon Wainwright III, liner notes for "Fear Itself"

10 Songs for the New Depression is a simple vocal and acoustic performance album composed of original songs as well as two cover versions of songs from the Great Depression. The album is approximately thirty minutes in length and contains lyrical references to economist Alan Greenspan, Nobel Prize-winning economist and The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, and President Barack Obama.[4][10] While Wainwright's previous studio album High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project (2009) contains more than twenty musicians and singers, The Guardian contributor Robin Denselow described 10 Songs as featuring a "pared-down, DIY set, in keeping with the mood of the new songs".[11]

The opening track, "Times Is Hard", features "bleak" lyrics about "nihilism [being] used as a tool to remedy social ills" sung to upbeat melodies.[5][11] Wainwright wrote the song following the inauguration of Barack Obama.[5] "House" is about economics and relationships, and tells the story of a couple wanting to divorce but staying together because they cannot sell their house.[11][12] In the liner notes, Wainwright admitted that at the time the album was released he "remained relatively unscathed by the New Depression" but owned a house in Southern California that he was unable to sell.[10] "On to Victory, Mr. Roosevelt" and "The Panic Is On" were both originally written during the Great Depression.[12] Circa 1933, Texas politician W. Lee O'Daniel wrote and recorded the former.[5] Medicine show performer Hezekiah Jenkins originally wrote and recorded "The Panic Is On".[5]

"Fear Itself" is about being fired "from the job you always professed to hate" and contains a reference to John Maynard Keynes.[13][14] "The Krugman Blues" references the "gloomy mien of one's favourite economic pundit", Paul Krugman, whom Wainwright met on a train to Boston.[2][5][11] Wainwright believed Krugman's sense of melancholy made for a "compelling and challenging character".[15] "Spooky" sound effects, suggested by Dick Connette, were added to the track "Halloween 2009".[5][11] Wainwright wrote "Middle of the Night" a few years prior to the album's release in an attempt to "cheer [himself] up and also to purvey an optimistic point of view for a change".[5] "Cash for Clunkers" refers to the Car Allowance Rebate System, a United States federal scrappage program active during summer 2009.[16][17] "Got a Ukulele" features Wainwright performing the titular instrument, which he believes was popular during the 1920s–1930s due to its ability to improve "one's mood and general outlook".[5]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
The Daily Telegraph 3/5 stars[18]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[11]
The Independent 3/5 stars[13]
Metro 3/5 stars[12]
PopMatters 7/10 stars[14]

Critical reception of the album was positive overall. Robin Denselow of The Guardian awarded the album four of five stars and wrote that Wainwright's performance sounded as "easy-going and spontaneous" and it does at his live concerts. Denselow considered "House" to be the album's best track.[11] The Daily Telegraph's Colin Irwin described the album as "oddly uplifting" despite its "variants on the theme that we're all doomed" from the economic crisis.[18] The Observer contributor Neil Spencer wrote that "while [Wainwright's] tone becomes shrill at times, his mix of nihilism and jauntiness (with ukulele) are finally uplifting."[19] Music journalist Andy Gill of The Independent recommended the tracks "House", "Fear Itself " and "The Panic Is On".[13] Simmy Richman's review for The Independent complimented Wainwright's ability to address current issues "simply and effectively", claiming "Wainwright can make you laugh, nod in agreement, shake your fist in despair and want to sing along". Richman appreciated Wainwright's honesty and humor and wrote that he displayed "better lyrical form than he has been in for some time".[10] The Independent included 10 Songs on their "Indy Choice: Best of the New Music" list for the week of July 16, 2010.[20] PopMatters' Alex Ramon preferred Wainwright's album Social Studies (1999), but considered 10 Songs to be "an enjoyable effort nonetheless", complimenting it for its simple approach.[14] Furthermore, Ramon wrote that the album "succeeds in getting you smiling rather than despairing at the mess we're in, and that's always been one of Wainwright's great gifts".[14]

Track listing[edit]

Economist Paul Krugman, the subject of "The Krugman Blues"

All tracks written by Loudon Wainwright III, unless noted otherwise.

  1. "Times Is Hard" – 2:55
  2. "House" – 4:19
  3. "On to Victory, Mr. Roosevelt" (W. Lee O'Daniel) – 2:35
  4. "Fear Itself" – 2:34
  5. "The Panic Is On" (Hezekiah Jenkins) – 2:56
  6. "The Krugman Blues" – 3:11
  7. "Halloween 2009" – 2:40
  8. "Middle of the Night" – 3:09
  9. "Cash for Clunkers" – 3:02
  10. "Got a Ukulele" – 2:39

Chart history[edit]

10 Songs for the New Depression debuted and reached its peak position at number thirty-eight on the United Kingdom's Top Independent Albums chart the week of July 31, 2010.[21] That same week the album debuted at number twelve on the Top 40 Independent Albums Breakers chart.[22] 10 Songs fell to number eighteen on the Top 40 Independent Albums Breakers chart the week of August 7, 2010.[23]

Chart (2010) Peak
position
UK Top 40 Independent Albums 38
UK Top 40 Independent Albums Breakers 12

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog
United Kingdom July 19, 2010 Proper Records Compact Disc PRPCD069[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "10 Songs for the New Depression". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 21, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Dunnett, Ninian (July 7, 2010). "Loudon Wainwright III 10 Songs for the New Depression Review". BBC Music. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  3. ^ Durchholz, Daniel (November 18, 2010). "Economy fuels topical CD by Loudon Wainwright III". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis, Missouri. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c "February 2010: Loudon Wainwright III Releases 10 Songs For The New Depression and Featured In The New Yorker Online". San Francisco, California: The Rosebud Agency. February 2010. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Songs for the New Depression". lw3.com. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  6. ^ "The Krugman Blues". The New Yorker. February 22, 2010. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  7. ^ Townsend, Bob (April 9, 2010). "Loudon Wainwright III to bring Loud & Rich Tour to Atlanta". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta, Georgia. ISSN 1539-7459. Retrieved August 22, 2011. 
  8. ^ Haymes, Greg (October 19, 2009). "Loudon Wainwright III and Richard Thompson @ The Egg, 10/18/09". Times Union. Albany, New York. ISSN 8756-5927. Retrieved August 22, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Richard Thompson And Loudon Wainwright III On World Cafe". NPR. June 13, 2011. Retrieved August 22, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c Richman, Simmy (July 18, 2010). "Album: Loudon Wainwright III, 10 Songs for the New Depression (Proper)". The Independent. London, United Kingdom: Independent Print Limited. ISSN 0951-9467. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Denselow, Robin (July 15, 2010). "Loudon Wainwright III: 10 Songs for the New Depression". The Guardian. London, United Kingdom. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b c Allfree, Claire (July 18, 2010). "10 Songs For The New Depression: An austerely arranged collection". Metro. London, United Kingdom: Associated Newspapers. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  13. ^ a b c Gill, Andy (July 16, 2010). "Album: Loudon Wainwright III, 10 Songs for the New Depression (Snowdon/Proper)". The Independent. London, United Kingdom: Independent Print Limited. ISSN 0951-9467. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  14. ^ a b c d Ramon, Alex (July 28, 2010). "Loudon Wainwright: 10 Songs for the New Depression". PopMatters. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  15. ^ Fischer, Molly (February 22, 2010). "Loudon Wainwright III has 'The Krugman Blues'". The New York Observer. ISSN 1052-2948. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  16. ^ Chang, Richard S. (June 26, 2009). "Obama Signs Cash-for-Clunkers Bill". The New York Times. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  17. ^ Valdes-Dapena, Peter (October 29, 2009). "Clunkers: Taxpayers paid $24,000 per car". CNNMoney.com. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  18. ^ a b Irwin, Colin (August 3, 2010). "Loudon Wainwright III: 10 Songs For The New Depression, CD review". The Daily Telegraph. London, United Kingdom: Telegraph Media Group. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  19. ^ Spencer, Neil (July 18, 2010). "Loudon Wainwright III: 10 Songs for the New Depression". The Observer. London, United Kingdom: Guardian Media Group. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Indy Choice: Best of the new music". The Independent. London, United Kingdom: Independent Print Limited. July 16, 2010. ISSN 0951-9467. Retrieved August 22, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Top 40 Independent Albums Archive: 31st July 2010". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Top 40 Independent Albums Breakers Archive: 31st July 2010". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Top 40 Independent Albums Breakers Archive: 7th August 2010". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 21, 2011.