"Give me a sad song, I'm in a class of my own," claims Linda Thompson on a country-tinged lament she wrote with Kentucky singer Betsy Cook, and she's not wrong. Five years on from Fashionably Late, which was her first solo set in 17 years, the decidedly non-prolific former heroine of the English folk scene is back with a confident, understated and gently emotional set that effortlessly re-establishes her reputation. She is joined by famous friends and family, including her son Teddy, and lesser-known daughter Kamila, who wrote the sad, witty and clever Nice Cars. Then there are English folk stars Martin and Eliza Carthy, accordion exponent John Kirkpatrick (who once toured with Linda and ex-husband Richard) and Martha Wainwright, whose brother Rufus contributes Beauty, an exquisite lament that sounds like a slowed-down show tune. But this is Linda Thompson's album, a varied but personal set that includes traditional songs, Tom Waits's poignant soldier's tale Day After Tomorrow, and her own new compositions, including a glorious, emotional tribute to the English folk scene, Whisky, Bob Copper and Me. This is a very classy comeback.
Robin Denselow is a journalist and broadcaster who specialises in music and politics. He is the author of When The Music's Over, a history of political pop