2008's Harps and Angels served as Randy Newman's first album of new material in nine years. Having focused on film scores, live performances, and career retrospectives since 1999's Bad Love, the album was ushered in by excellent lead single "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country," which Rolling Stone ranked as the #2 song of 2007 (right behind Jay-Z and ahead of Rihanna). Co-produced by Mitchell Froom (Elvis Costello, Los Lobos, Sheryl Crow) and former Warner Bros. head and longtime Newman collaborator Lenny Waronker, Harps and Angels showcases Newman's myriad talents as a political and social commentator, balladeer, and storyteller. The arrangements have a Dixieland feel, with Newman on piano fronting a club-size combo; several tracks feature his lush orchestrations, as grand as anything he has produced on his film scores. On Harps and Angels, Newman makes us laugh, gets us mad, cajoles us to think. He chronicles the ways we fall apart and catalogs the emotions that bring us together. Call it the soundtrack to our lives.