Richard Thompson -‘Still’ (Proper)
They say we live in the best of all possible worlds. If so, how come Richard Thompson doesn’t seem to be as revered worldwide as Bob Dylan or Eric Clapton? Because he’s got the songwriting chops of the former and is easily the equal if not the greater of the latter when it comes to the guitar. And fifty years into his music career, he is still at the top of his game. Vocally while other contemporaries of his age seem to be struggling, his warm baritone is as fine as ever.
So are there any advancements on this album? Well, it’s no longer news (unless you read the wrong magazines of course) that this album was produced by Jeff Tweedy (of Uncle Tupelo and Wilco fame). And the songs are as fine as ever, with many new fine additions to the already impressive Thompson songbook. The women in Thompson’s songs are not mere submissive groupies, he often seems to regret in his songs that he’s not been able to get them to stay.
It’s not to say that I got into this album immediately – because I didn’t. But what each successive play over the past few months has revealed is that it is full of more fine additions to the Thompson catalogue, and it is up there with the best work he has produced (Rumour & Sigh, Shoot Out The Lights, Mock Tudor and so on). Not everyone can get away with starting an album with a ballad, as Thompson does where with ‘She Never Could Resist A Winding Road’ but Richard Thompson does it with aplomb. And he’s always been able to be clever and funny with it (as you’d expect from a guy who wrote a song called ‘Hots For The Smarts.’) ‘Guitar Heroes’ manages to cleverly play tribute to those who inspired him, and still work as a song – you’ll need to listen to it to understand it. And ‘Long John Silver’ ‘Beatnik Walking’ and ‘Patty Don’t You Put Me Down’…just fine, fine songs.
So if you’re already a fan, you will know what to expect, and you will still marvel. If you’ve never heard his work, why not start here?