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CD Review – Richard Thompson “Acoustic Classics”

July 10, 2014

510W9fMo-KL._SY450_There’s probably a bit of intentional irony in Richard Thompson’s latest offering: a year after “Electric”, he gives us “Acoustic Classics”.

If the British balladeer is trying to say “I can do anything”, he is pretty successful. “Acoustic” is a haunting, accomplished piece of work that reminds listeners of Thompson’s superb songwriting and much-heralded guitar work (listed in Rolling Stone’s top 100 just above Jack White and just below John McLaughlin).

There is nothing that is actually new on the album. It is a series of newly record tracks without back up from his 40-plus years of music. So you get “Persuasion”, “Beeswing”, “Dimming of the Day” and so on.

So is it worth it? The answer is yes, especially for those who do not have a series of these songs on other albums. Even for those of us who do, each song is as crisp as if it were new and more than worth having.

But more to the point it is just Thompson and his guitar with the skill and Angst coming through without any encumbrance.

When I interviewed Thompson last year, he explained the reasoning behind the lack of happy love songs in his repertoire: “You can write a song about relationships and it can be just a very polite, twee love song. But I don’t think that is doing justice to what usually happens to human beings.”

There is some lovely guitar – try “Valerie” in particular. But stripped of all but this, “Acoustic Classics” main joy is that it allows us to be drawn into Thompson’s poetic pain and celebration of the ordinary, be it the fixated girl who travels “From Galway to Graceland” to be with the King, a man’s passion for a woman with red hair and his “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” motorbike, or shooting out the lights to be in the dark.

Then there is one of my favourites – the sudden, horrible realisation of a man that his love affair is over.

But I misunderstood/But I misunderstood/

I thought she was saying good luck/She was saying goodbye.

Ouch. Great album. But ouch.

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From → Music, Music Review

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