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Randy Newman’s ‘Dark Matter’ shows why he’s still his best interpreter

We don’t talk enough about Randy Newman as a singer and a maker of pop records.

Oh, we talk plenty about the 73-year-old Los Angeles native who’s won Grammys and Emmys and Oscars and been inducted into all the relevant halls of fame.

But these days the focus tends to be on Newman’s songwriting and composing — his groundbreaking use of unreliable narrators, for instance, or the eerie prescience of his song “Louisiana 1927,” which he wrote in the mid-1970s about a great flood trying to wash that Southern state away. (Thirty years later, after Hurricane Katrina, the tune became something of a standard among performers in New Orleans.)

To an extent Newman has encouraged this view. Busy with film work, he puts out a new studio album only about once every decade, and last year he released the latest in a series of stripped-down voice-and-piano recordings of his best-known material.