Album Review: Richard Thompson - "Still"
By Andrew Lee
If you don’t know who Richard Thompson is for some reason, then I’ll start by saying this - if you’re looking for pretty vocals you might want to look elsewhere. For pretty vocals from a singer/songwriter with the last name Thompson, look up Teddy Thompson, Richard Thompson’s son, who sometimes plays and records with his dad and is an accomplished singer/songwriter in his own right. Teddy is the type of singer whose voice is familiar with the adjective “golden.” His father, Richard, is a much more, shall I say, "human” singer. Fortunately Richard is a guitar wizard and a first-rate songwriter. He is also a witty and wizened old folkie from the sixties, who is now in HIS sixties, but who remains in full command of his guitar playing and songwriting powers on this, his 42nd album, titled Still.
About half of this album had to grow on me, and about half was instantly appealing, which is actually a nice balance. Enough low hanging fruit to attract me to the tree and keep me there long enough to notice something desirable is also growing in the upper branches.
And now, without further ado, I present: ANDREW’S ALBUM OPINION AWARDS for Still by Richard Thompson
Most quickly addictive guitar hook = “Long John Silver”, though "Beatnik Walking” and “No Peace, No End” are pretty great too...
Prettiest acoustic guitar work = “Josephine"
Least likably sung word = the word “doll” on “Broken Doll”, (nearly a tie with the word “hand” on “Dungeons for Eyes”)
Best autobiographical story song = “Guitar Heroes"
Greatest variety of musical styles in one song = “Guitar Heroes"
Song most likely to be skipped over by me = “Dungeons for Eyes"
Song I initially didn’t care for that began to grow on me the most = “Where’s Your Heart"
Music that most reminded me of music from another song by another artist = opening guitar on “Beatnik Walking” / “Solsbury Hill” by Peter Gabriel
Most noteworthy guitar soloing = “Patty Don’t You Put Me Down” for the tumbling and trips and bends. Well, let’s call it a tie with “She’s All Buttoned Up.” Wait, what about “Pony in the Stable?” And what about the epic, unravelling chimey-ness of “She Never Could Resist a Winding Road?” Oh man, “Long John Silver” is really cool too - how that electric guitar digs low and then sprouts another personality about 3/4 through...
Best singing with a British accent = “She Never Could Resist a Winding Road” I didn’t like it at first, but this is nice to hear actually - so many singers don’t sing with much trace of their native accent, as if they’re playing the part of an American pop singer…or maybe it has something to do with how the mouth works singing vs. talking - I don’t know - whatever the reason, it feels true and authentic to hear some accent in there...
I imagine fans of Richard Thompson will find plenty to enjoy on Still, and for those who may be new to his world, if you like folk, rock, virtuoso guitar work (both acoustic and electric), acerbic wit, failed relationships, English nostalgia and romance, songs about pirate con men...and 1960’s recording artists who have influenced hordes of contemporary musicians and who've still got it after all these years, then this latest offering from Richard Thompson might just be your cup of tea.
Psst...Wilco fans, this one's produced by Jeff Tweedy.