Videos by American Songwriter
Commercial marketplace be damned, legendary British singer Linda Thompson stays true to her deep folk roots by disregarding current trends. Unlike ex-husband Richard, who helps out on the opening “Love’s For Babies And Fools” (read into that what you want considering the couple’s notoriously hostile relationship), Linda sticks with a predominantly unplugged format singing a mix of originals and rearranged covers that seemed beamed in from an earlier time.
Her lovely alto voice, still subject to bouts of the spasmodic dysphonia that sidelined her career and prevents her from performing live, sounds warm and comforting, even if most of these tunes are ruminations on loss, broken relationships, regret and death. Son Teddy and daughter Kami contribute as do old cronies on the Brit folk scene Dave Swarbrick and Martin Carthy along with Irish guitarist John Doyle. Thompson’s first album in six years is, like its 2007 predecessor Versatile Heart, a lovely and uncompromising set perfect for her emotional readings. Despite her vocal condition, she goes entirely a cappella on a live drinking song “Blue Breezin’ Blind Drunk” that shows she needs no backup to work her vocal magic. Most of these tracks utilize only rudimentary banjo, acoustic guitar and occasional fiddle. But along with Thompson’s voice, that’s all they need to command your attention.
Perhaps a few less ballads would have livened up the mood, but these melancholy songs clearly call to Thompson and her performance is heartfelt, poignant and stirring. The style may be dated, yet this genre has seldom been better served than by Thompson’s beautiful voice and exquisite phrasing. It’ll never make the hit parade, but for those who have followed her career from those terrific yet commercially disappointing ’70s albums with then husband Richard, this is another jewel in her small but impressive solo catalog.