A collection of thoughtful, catchy and ultimately satisfying songs.
Chris Long 2008-08-27
Teddy Thompson has famous parents, you know. Okay, that's not the most inspiring place to start a review, but it's the one where everyone seems to start one about Master Thompson. Unlike his friend Rufus Wainwright, it seems that even a clutch of fine albums isn't enough to get Teddy out of the shadow of his parents.
Admittedly, it is a pretty big shadow that folk legends Richard and Linda Thompson cast, but surely any offspring has a right to be judged on their own talent, rather than against their parents?
A Piece Of What You Need might just be enough to free him from those shackles. Picking up where 2006's Separate Ways, rather than last year's reworking of classic American country songs Up Front & Down Low, left off, it is a collection of thoughtful, catchy and ultimately satisfying songs.
Teddy's talent is the weaving his lovely languid larynx round effortless toe-tapping melodies to brilliant effect, and this album is bursting with fine examples. Lead single, In My Arms, which featured a ludicrously brilliant turn by Rufus in its video, sums up his abilities – a hand-clap beat pushes the song along to a beautiful chorus and everything is allowed to breathe in the tight, simple songwriting.
The credit for the enjoyment can't totally go to Teddy though. While he self-produced his last two albums, this time around he handed the duties over to Björk and Madonna producer, Marius de Vries – and it's the touches that Marius brings that push this album out of good and into great.
The eerie Jonathan's Book comes flourished with a cinematic feel, the taut What's This gets a brilliant twist with the feel that there's a second, devilish band echoing Teddy's, Turning The Gun On Myself's bittersweet emptiness sounds like its being sung from a 4am fire escape in Teddy's beloved New York, and the grand finale of the title track is a thrilling, trumpeting triumph, that's adorned lavishly with an expanse of bells and whistles.
The pair deserve a collective pat on the back. Not only have they produced a fine album which never dips into dullness, they have also given Teddy the lift he needed to escape the legacy of his family, and that really is a piece of what he needs.