Jonathan Richman's done a pretty bad job in recent years of exploiting the renown he earned for his performance in 1998's Cameron Diaz blockbuster There's Something About Mary (and by "renown" I mean viewers wondering, "Who the hell's that creepy curly-haired guy playing guitar?"). Consider the singing-songwriting milquetoasts who have lately reaped relative commercial rewards in Richman's stead: Gavin DeGraw, Josh Joplin, even shitty Shawn Mullins, whose greatest-hits CD I had to convince myself I was actually seeing at the record store the other day. Richman could've written those hacks' songs, maybe gotten one of 'em on another high-profile soundtrack, made a video, dated Elizabeth Berkley or somebody. But no. He's insisted on hewing to his singular vision of a post-punk folk-pop in which a stripped-down sonic palette doesn't preclude a naturally omnivorous formal appetite. On Not So Much to be Loved as to Love, his aptly titled new CD (due next month), Richman sounds as content as ever to do his thing for whoever's interested: "He loved color, and he let it show," he sings of Vincent van Gogh, and of himself.
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