Thursday, May 08, 2003

Richard Thompson, The Old Kit Bag full review:

Within the context of his career, I'm giving it an A-/B+. There's only one standout song that I can see him playing in ten years ("Outside of the Inside"), but the overall songwriting is as solid as he usually musters. The sound is phenomenal, though: as dry and straightforward as Mock Tudor, with some of the most breathtaking guitar as has ever appeared on his studio efforts.

As always, the songcraft is at the heart of the album, but the remarkable effortless layers of guitar and stunning leads take a song like "Gethsemane" (which is basically a re-write of "Hand of Kindness" with more bitter, apocalyptic lyrics) into the realm of the Truly Inspired. There's a few Thompson-copywright miserable love songs, like "Jealous Words", which is most distinguishable by the Lindalike harmony vocals of Judith Owen, and "Word Unspoken, Sight Unseen", featuring Danny Thompson's bowed upright bass. The radio songs will be the poppy "I'll Tag Along" and "She Said It Was Destiny", both featuring very satisfying sudden major-to-minor chord changes. The true standout is "Outside of the Inside", which Thompson introduced in concert as a Taliban's-eye view of the Western world. This song has the feel of Thompson's legendary wrestling with his Muslim faith, and, while it's not "A Heart Needs A Home", it is a classic Thompson first-person narrative that steps away from bitter love to talk about the wide, bitter world.

Thematically, I don't know why Thompson's subtitled the album "Unguents, Fig Leaves, and Tourniquets for the Soul", nor split the album into two chapters, "The Haunted Keepsake" or "The Pilgim Fancy". Sure, the names sound like they mean something, but why this album? Why these songs? Obviously, this aspect is going to require more thought.

Anyway, this is not the best Richard Thompson album, nor is it even in the top five. It is, however, a new Richard Thompson album, and deserving of all the accompanying praise. I like the way that it sounds, and I like a number of these songs. I'm sure that the tour will be incredible, and that the rest of these songs will eventually catch in my ear. Why wait? Go get it, if you're so inclined.

Arbitrary ranking of the Richard Thompson albums, by my taste:

1. Shoot Out the Lights
2. I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
3. Rumor and Sigh
4. Pour Down Like Silver
5. Mock Tudor (hey, I'm surprised it's this high, too)
6. Starring As Henry the Human Fly
7. Amnesia
8. Hokey Pokey
9. The Old Kit Bag (made the top ten!)
10. Across a Crowded Room
11. Hand of Kindness
12. Strict Tempo!
13. First Light
14. Daring Adventures
15. You? Me? Us?
16. Sunnyvista
17. Mirror Blue

That list could be more complicated with odd albums like Industry or Sweet Talker, or bootlegs, official and otherwise. But I left 'em off, for ease of ranking.


My photo
Cary, NC, United States
reachable at firstname lastname (all run together) at gmail dot com

About This Blog

From Here To Obscurity, founded ca. 2003, population 1. The management wishes to emphasize that no promises vis-a-vis your entertainment have been guaranteed and for all intents and purposes, intimations of enlightenment fall under the legal definition of entertainment. No refunds shall be given nor will requests be honored. Although some may ask, we have no intention of beginning again.

  © Blogger templates Brooklyn by 2008

Back to TOP