...Richard Thompson shows little sign of hanging up his guitar just yet.
Gemma Padley 2007-05-23
When an artist has penned soundtracks, won an Ivor Novello award, been named as one of the top 20 guitarists of all time and received a life time folk achievement award, it is expected retirement may be imminent. But folk singer Richard Thompson shows little sign of hanging up his guitar just yet.
In a career spanning well over 40 years, Thompson is one of folk’s old faithfuls – his talent for combining intricate and animated guitar lines with thoughtful lyrics has seen him a permanent fixture on the folk scene. Sweet Warrior is Thompson at his best; he has channelled decades of experience into an album that flows with sensibility but never gives over to banal song writing cliché.
''She Sang Angels To Rest'' showcases Thompson’s distinctive voice, incorporating yearning solo viola and swelling strings to beautiful effect. While album opener ''Needle And Thread'' has a playful swaggering arrogance, it is the defiantly provocative ''I'll Never Give Up'' – a brilliantly wayward comic-chase of a track – that makes a lasting impact.
What comes across most is the insistent war themes hidden among lyrics of forlorn lovers and turbulent love. ''Guns Are The Tongues'' – an achingly ponderous ballad on war – is hugely affecting in its forthright questioning of conflict. ''Dad’s Gonna Kill Me'' is a revved-up but no less stark account of the atrocities in Iraq – a refreshing take on a war we have become somewhat numb to.
Sweet Warrior is a collection of songs that refuses to be taken too seriously. While the slower tracks radiate genuine feeling, the rambunctious up-tempo numbers evaluate with an ever-present cheeky glint in the eye – an eye that the irrepressible Thompson has firmly on the ball.