Saturday, June 25, 2005

Richard Thompson - Live in Austin, TX (New West, 2005)

Richard Thompson is one of the most consistent live performers in the rock and folk music worlds today, so it was just a matter of time before he released a live album. Here he's backed by just bass and drums performing a mix of newer material and popular favorites both electrically and acoustically.

Starting off with a couple of tunes from recent studio LP's, "Cooksferry Queen" and "Walking the Long Miles Home" stick with a mid-tempo groove and Thompson sings in his deep tenor. He then shifts gears into some slower material, the darkly nostalgic "Al Bowly's in Heaven" about an aging British pensioner looking back on his life and the brooding "Mingus Eyes." Of the new material, "Mr. Rebound" hits the mark, another one of Thompson's bitter tales of lost love and longing. "Dry My Tears and Move On" covers much the same material from a ballad perspective.

Thompson's striking guitar playing is stangely muted during this disc. But, longtime fan favorite "Shoot Out the Lights" does bring forth a brief snarling electric solo, and "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" features some deft and intricate acoustic playing. These are just quibbles, actually. With a tight band playing these great songs, it's hard to criticize anything here. Thompson may be in a holding pattern at the moment, but he's certainly not standing still.

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