Michael Penn Readies Album, Live Set, Movie Score

Live record includes songs from wife Aimee Mann.

Between scoring a new Gwyneth Paltrow movie, writing for his next album and putting together a live set from his last tour with wife Aimee Mann, Michael Penn has been keeping plenty busy. But don't remind him.

"I'm just trying to keep working," Penn said from his Los Angeles home. "If I think about it, it's pretty overwhelming."

Penn just wrapped up work on the soundtrack for "The Anniversary Party," which stars Gwyneth Paltrow and was written and directed by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming. In addition to helping choose songs that appear in the film — from a set of artists including the Eels, Sammy Davis Jr. and Marlene Dietrich — Penn composed incidental music, which he said ranges from "delicate piano and acoustic guitar" to electronic tunes.

Penn previously contributed music to director Paul Thomas Anderson's "Hard Eight" and "Boogie Nights," in which he also had a bit part. Mann's tunes provided much of the soundtrack to Anderson's last movie, 1999's "Magnolia."

The singer/songwriter is also putting the finishing touches on Acoustic Vaudeville, a live album culled from performances from the 2000 tour of the same name. The tour featured Penn and Mann performing separately, with standup comics doing much of the between-song banter.

"We talked about the fact that we both had a similar limitation," says Penn of his partner of six years. "The public speaking aspect isn't our strong suit."

So they got comedians David Cross, who's appeared on HBO's "Mr. Show," and Patton Oswalt, who has a recurring role on "The King of Queens," to do it for them. "They served as kind of a palate cleanser," Penn said. "There's a perception that Aimee and I are serious and dour, and David or Patton would just kind of undercut that."

A label spokesperson said a track listing for Acoustic Vaudeville is not yet available.

With the live record set for a fall release, Penn has begun writing for his next album. Both will come out on Penn and Mann's own label, United Musicians. His last album, the darkly melodic MP4: Days Since a Lost Time Accident, came out in 2000.