CD: Richard Thompson, Sweet Warrior

(Proper)

It was 40 years ago this week that Richard Thompson first played with Fairport Convention, and their most celebrated surviving former member is still in rousing, bitter form. He hasn't brought out his electric guitar to work with a band on an album of new songs in four years now, but it has been well worth the wait. He has always specialised in writing about loss, bitterness and horror, and this is one of the most brilliantly gloomy albums in his long career. The outstanding track, surely, is the brooding and genuinely scary Dad's Gonna Kill Me, written from the viewpoint of a very frightened soldier in Baghdad, with brutal descriptions of life in Iraq matched against the lines "at least we're winning on the Fox Evening News" and some rousing fiddle work from Sara Watkins. Elsewhere, there's another pained song of love and death, Poppy-Red, and a witty, vicious tale of infidelity and ceilidh bands, Johnny's Far Away. The guitar work is pretty startling, too.

Contributor

Robin Denselow

The GuardianTramp

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