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RICHARD THOMPSON
FRONT PARLOUR BALLADS
COOKING VINYL

Thereís no place like home, especially for an expat, which Richard Thompson has been for the past 15 years. He may reside in LA, but his heartís in England. And Front Parlour Ballads is his most blatantly English album. For a guy who started out in Fairport Convention, applying rock sensibilities to trad tunes like "Matty Groves" and "Tam Lin," heís evolved in reverse. Hence this mostly acoustic album of songs that couldíve been written any time in the past few hundred years. "Let It Blow" depicts a star-crossed high-profile couple who are "mystically joined, like Rawicz and Landauer," yet they wind up like Brad and Jen, dueling it out in the tabloids. Itís pessimistic and dour, but also witty and felt. The sparse setting allows Thompsonís guitars to ring clear and true; his spidery electric punctuates the chilling "My Soul, My Soul." And critics of his unpretty baritone should listen to the crushing "Cressida" and the wrenching "Precious One," where his expressiveness is up there with Dylanís. Yes, with all its perfectly plucked guitars and quaint references to Miss Patsy, Mutton Street, and Kingdom Come, Front Parlour Ballads comes off as old-fashioned. But its concerns ó betrayal, loneliness, love, cruelty ó are as ancient, and contemporary, as the human condition.

Richard Thompson | Somerville Theatre, Davis Square, Somerville | Oct 24 | 617.931.2000.

BY ELIOT WILDER


Issue Date: September 16 - 22, 2005
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