Harry Shearer's politically pointed new album, "Can't Take a Hint," is considerably different than anything he's done before, either on his own or with Spinal Tap and the Folksmen from "A Mighty Wind."
The 13-track set -- which comes out Aug. 27 -- is the first of Shearer's solo releases to not follow a particular thematic thread. It's also the first time he's deployed a cadre of guest artists, a potent lineup that includes Dr. John, "Glee's" Jane Lynch, Fountains of Wayne, Jamie Cullum, Shearer's wife Judith Owen, guitarists Steve Lukather (Toto) and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (Steely Dan, the Doobie Brothers), trumpeter Nicholas Payton, Brian Wilson/Beach Boys aide de camp Jeff Foskett and others.
Shearer tells Billboard.com that after making 2010's "The Big Uneasy," a sober documentary investigating the reasons New Orleans flooded during Hurricane Katrina, "I wanted to do something fun again. I had collected this bunch of songs and went through them and thought 'I've got enough to make a record. It doesn't have the thematic core like the other ones (including 2008's "Songs of the Bushmen" and 2010's "Greed and Fear") did, but that's OK.' And then my partner in the record company (Courgette Records) said, 'Why don't you get guest stars on this one? You know a lot of people. It might be fun.' So that was the two prongs of the project. It was a fairly lengthy project to get completed, but I'm really happy with it."