Randy Newman strips down -- his music -- in ‘Songbook Vol. 2’ due in May

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Randy Newman is delving back into his considerable catalog to reinterpret songs with just his voice and piano in “Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 2,” due May 10.

The Grammy winner, who finds out Sunday whether he’ll take home an Academy Award for his song “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3,” has recorded new versions of “Cowboy,” dating back to his 1968 debut album, “Randy Newman,” through “Laugh and Be Happy” and “Losing You” from his latest studio collection, “Harps and Angels,” and several others in between.

It’s the follow-up to his 2003 collection, in which he delivered solo piano versions of “Sail Away,” “Rednecks,” “Louisiana 1927,” “Political Science,” “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today,” “You Can Leave Your Hat On” and a dozen more.

The new album will be co-produced by Mitchell Froom, who produced the first one as well as Newman’s 1999 album, “Bad Love,” and Lenny Waronker, the veteran record executive and a childhood friend of Newman’s.


“His instincts are better than mine, in some respects,” Newman said of Waronker in a statement issued Wednesday by his label, Nonesuch Records. “He’s always been, for me, the most crucial person to my songwriting. I wanted to be the best that I could be. I always felt that Lenny wanted me to be better than that. I’m grateful to him.”

Earlier this month, he started a solo tour that will reach California on April 22 with a stop in San Francisco. No Southern California dates have been announced.

-- Randy Lewis