Recording an album full of new material in front of a live audience is something of a gamble, but it has paid off handsomely for veteran guitarist and songwriter Richard Thompson, his new album captures the energy of his always potent live performance and combines it was an excellent set of new songs to very good effect. He has a tight backing band consisting of Pete Zorn on guitars, flute, saxophone and mandolin, Michael Jerome on drums, Taras Prodaniuk bass, and Joel Zifkin on violin and mandolin. The multi-instrumentalists give him a lot of opportunity to create dynamic sounding music and he uses it well, making both blasting guitar rock and gentle folkish ballads. Kicking off with an extraordinary bile-spitting rocker, "The Money Shuffle," Thompson, who was always one of music most insightful lyricists, absolutely lacerates the bankers and hedge fund managers that were responsible for the recent financial meltdown. With vivid imagery and torrid guitar, it's one of his finest recent songs. The focus is also on electric guitar in the noirish "Crimescene" and "Sidney Wells" both of which draw on elements of crime fiction for their lyrics, and leave ample space for scalding guitar solos. Narrative songs have also been Thompson's trademark throughout his lengthy career, and on this album "Haul Me Up" and "Here Comes Gordie" are interesting slice of life songs that operate like little observational vignettes or short stories over a bouncing beat. The set also features some beautiful ballads, like the haunting "Among the Gorse, Among the Grey" with a beautiful vocal performance. This is another excellent album from Richard Thompson, who is one of the most consistently successful musicians in both rock and folk music. Filled with fascinating lyrics and awe inspiring guitar playing it is one of the most intelligent and thoughtful records of the year. Dream Attic - amazon.com
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