Richard Thompson: Still
|One of the challenges on listening to a Richard Thompson album, is working out which tracks will be hijacked and eagerly slaughtered by lesser artists in folk clubs up and down the land. That fate won't befall Guitar Heroes, the final song on Still, Thompson's latest release. It lasts for seven and a half minutes and covers the map, going through phases of swing, rock and roll and Hank Marvin. There's also a small pipe section which changes the atmosphere into that of a late 1970s Yes LP.|
Whilst the final number owes much to Thompson's versatility on guitar, the rest of Still is about the songwriting. It's an unfussy, pared down record, completed in just nine days, and it shows. That's meant in a good way.
Richard's having some bother with the wimmin here. The quirky All Buttoned Up has him involved with someone you'd call capricious if you like fancy words, or a bit of a prick teaser otherwise. Josephine is more sombre and has a finger picked guitar part that's as sweet and expressive as anything you'll hear this year, and the sinister Broken Doll chronicles the hopelessness of loving someone who is too damaged to ever be fixed.
The titles of Where's Your Heart and Patty Don't You Put Me Down, are self explanatory, whilst She Never Could Resist a Winding Road, revisits the theme of Beeswing, ie a woman with wandering feet and features an instrumental break that wouldn't be out of place if played by a Scottish marching band.
It's not all relationship angst though. Long John Silver is a trade mark RT upbeat number, similar in tempo to Wall of Death or Tear Stained letter, and has him pitting his wits against a con artist and coming second.
In an effort to shake up the creative approach, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy has been entrusted with production duties and musicians from both his and Thompon's bands used as backup. The experiment works well. Still is a collection of solidly crafted, accessible songs that may gain Richard Thompson new admirers whilst satisfying those already in the camp.
- Les Pilling
Purchase Still here:
Still (Deluxe Edition)
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