Trouble in Paradise
was the last of a string of seven albums that began with Newman's songwriting debut in 1968, after which he exclusively devoted himself to following the family tradition of scoring movies, with only a couple of albums of new songs released since 1983.
Newman's decision to take up writing movie scores rather than persist with his career as a singer/songwriter was in my view the right one, as - whilst his first five albums included many very fine compositions - his sixth Born Again
only managed three gooduns, and the Law of Diminishing Returns had well and truly kicked in by this point, such that Trouble in Paradise
is entirely devoid of what might be called 'Newman-esque' material, meaning that it doesn't possess any of the musical characteristics that made him such a distinctive voice in the first place.
Gone then, are the attractive piano-based melodies, along with the often charmingly pretty Southern-style string arrangements - best presented in Newman's first and most musical of movie scores, 1981's Ragtime
- to be replaced by tuneless and loud heavy-handed rock arrangements, most evident on the album's first three cuts.
Gone too is Newman's admittedly somewhat limited yet distinctive singing style - on Trouble in Paradise
, he merely barks his way through its so-called 'songs'. And as for his lyrics - well, he pretty much sheds any pretence that he's writing as some 'character' or other here - on the rather nasty "My Life Is Good" for example, he deliberately refers to himself by name, thus willfully identifying himself as the self-absorbed character with an over-inflated ego that he portrays in the song.
Insofar as they're more-or-less piano-and-voice only, the only tracks that bear any semblance to the Newman of old are "Same Girl" and "Real Emotional Girl", but even so they're really nothing more than undeveloped sketches, stuff that wouldn't have qualified even as filler on his albums from the 70's.
by Reviewer: bluemoon