Dream Attic - Richard Thompson Album Review
Richard Thompson's importance in English folk and rock music became apparent with his selection as curator of the 2010 Meltdown Festival – it's not just any old bugger who gets that accolade you know. But now it's time for what Thompson does best – a new album, a live-set no less, recorded during a West Coast tour in the States earlier this year.
The initial print-run pairs up an 'electric' set of 13 brand-new songs recorded in front of an audience, mainly in San Francisco, and the same 13 songs presented in original acoustic-demo form. The comparables that this throws up makes for interesting listening, kicked off by the raised middle finger to the financial-sectors that is, "The Money Shuffle" followed by slightly more rootsy and familiar territory with "Among The Gorse, Among The Grey". But, for me, the album really takes off with the stomping "Haul Me Up", a riff-laden song that sees Thompson pleading for salvation and delivering a snatch of blistering fret work to boot. If singles were still viable, this would be my choice.
The 'electric' selection isn't all rock, rock, rock – "Burning Man" is a fiddle-laced ballad with some vivid imagery that wouldn't sit out of place on a Waterboys album (that's a compliment), while the almost funky "Demons In Her Dancing Shoes" helps display his supporting band's chops with veritable aplomb. Thompson has many fortes and one is singing about death, a subject that rears its head during "A Brother Slips Away" and "Sidney Wells", but it isn't all doom and gloom – his trademark blues ditched on "Big Sun Falling In The River, in favour of Crowded House-esque popera, and "Bad Again" a rock n' roll exercise.
So does including the acoustic-readings add another dimension to an album that already clocks in at 70 minutes plus? Well it knocks 20 minutes off and actually enhances a few songs – "Haul Me Up" and "Sidney Wells" benefiting from the minimal arrangements. To be honest, I like the idea of the raw live recording, but enjoyed this 'demo' section a little bit more.
Overall, another spot-on album from a man dangerously close to being termed as a 'national treasure', but I would have liked a shorter 'electric' set, perhaps 10 songs with a couple of acoustic songs thrown into the mix. I guess I prefer Mr Thompson's more minimal approach than a full band, but "Dream Attic" is still concrete evidence of his holistic and organic approach to making music. Get the limited edition.
- Mon 23rd Oct 2017 Richard ThompsonCadogan Hall (Kensington and Chelsea)Buy Tickets
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