Album Reviews

Thompson – Family

(Fantasy Records/Concord Music Group)

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Richard Thompson, Linda Thompson, Teddy Thompson, Family, Fantasy Records, Concord Music Group, Zak Hobbs, James WalbourneWho could have imagined that we’d see any kind of unity from Richard and Linda Thompson after their acerbic break-up, detailed in their landmark album, 1982’s Shoot Out the Lights? Let’s give kudos to Teddy Thompson for bringing not only his mom and dad together, but including other Thompson family members as well. Brother Jack, younger sister Kami, her husband James Walbourne, and nephew Zak Hobbs join Teddy, Richard, and Linda collectively as Thompson on an album where each Thompson contributes two original songs.

The various styles mix together well, but despite some supporting accompaniment from family members, it comes off as mostly individual rather than collaborative efforts. Nonetheless, while Richard’s driving style and Linda’s English folk approach are familiar, Teddy and Kami prove to be crafty songsmiths as well. If there is a misstep, the album might be better served with a vocal tune rather than Jack’s instrumental, “At The Feet Of The Emperor.”

Teddy’s opener, the title track, is the most memorable, as it speaks directly to his family status. He bestows high praise on his dad, mom and sister, and cites himself as kind of “twixt and tween” and “born to the manor, never quite clamoring free,” referencing Sean Lennon as one who could relate. His open honesty draws you right in, providing a nice entry to the contrasting styles in the strong sequence of Richard, Kami, and Linda. As you move through the album you sense a commonality in the wide ranging styles. As Richard says, “I think everyone’s a bit in the singer-songwriter style.” It’s gratifying to hear how well Teddy and Kami especially have put those good genes to work.

– Jim Hynes

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