RICHARD THOMPSON IS ONE OF those artists for whom it is hard to track all the albums he has done.
Apparently it is 16 studio albums but it seems far more, and of course there’s the work with Fairport Convention and a number of collaborations, notably his ex-wife Linda.
Remaining relevant in a crowded market – in all genres, nevermind just folk/ roots – takes something a little special.
Luckily, Thompson has a distinctive, marketable voice that is easy on the ear. It has clarity and authority.
I caught some of Thompson at WOMAD in New Plymouth in March, alas after six tracks Public Service Broadcasting were due to kick off on another stage. I was impressed by how he kept a very diverse audience in his hand. At one side of me were young bogan stoners, the other middle class, middle aged liberals and then there’s Porky, who is well, a pig. Who likes post-punk, indie and Cuban salsa.
Curiously, Thompson has admitted that the latest album Still (Proper records) isn’t a move forward, though he quantifies it by saying, in the same sentence, it isn’t “playing the same old stuff”.
He is spot on. There’s the typical swing of moving to moveless on Still; uplifting to mundane. It’s a cycle that is tantalising; while you know the routine, you’re never quite sure of which order it will come in, or how it will be delivered.
Patty Don’t You Put Me Down is the kind of edgy ditty that could open a gig to warm up the crowd, while No Peace No End is a relentless charge through Main Road, lots of guitars and quickly-rattled off verses.
Elsewhere, there’s ballads and blues stompers; Still has the distinctive stamp of Thompson, and even the hiring of Jeff Tweedy from Wilco on production duties can’t offset that heritage.