Jonathan Richman

Clarinets are one secret behind the surprising warmth of Jonathan Richman’s newest album. Brian Wilson used a wall of licorice sticks on the Beach Boys’ lost 1967 masterpiece Smile, for texture, and savvy record makers know that you can’t beat woodwinds when you want to convey the feeling of soaking up the amber tones from a gently burning fireplace. And now that the filmmaking Farrelly Brothers have broadened Richman’s appeal beyond cult figure as world’s oldest living teenaged guitar wonk, Richman responds with an engaging, romantic pop record that should put a smile on the face of any hard-bitten crank. From the wonderful title cut through such numbers as “Springtime in New York” and “Give Paris One More Chance” to four closing numbers en Español, Richman and co-producer Niko Bolas (Neil Young, Warren Zevon) have conjured a disc that radiates with quiet but effervescent charm. Quite sweet.