This is gloriously vicious, bitter, sad and bleak, even by Richard Thompson's standards. Recording live with a four-piece band, he continues his assault on human folly and unpleasantness with 11 new songs that deal with bankers, murderers, suicide bombers and vain pop stars – with laments for lost friends, lost love or lost chances added in. He shows off his black humour on The Money Shuffle, which starts with the lines: "I love kittens and little babies ... your money is so safe with me," and uses much the same technique on the jaunty Here Comes Geordie, the story of a Tynesider who sings with a Jamaican accent and flies around in a private plane to save the planet. I trust that Sting is squirming. Elsewhere, on Big Sun Falling in the River, he matches a sturdy, singalong melody against lyrics dealing with the end of a relationship, while on the personal and pained A Brother Slips Away, he mourns the death of friends such as Davy Graham. The two best tracks are the bleakest of all. Crimescene is a horrific mood piece about death and fate, while Sidney Wells is a brutal modern murder ballad set to a jaunty English dance tune. It ends with a furious electric guitar workout that echoes his playing on Matty Groves, on the Fairport Convention classic Liege & Lief in 1969. Impressive.
Richard Thompson: Dream Attic | CD review
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